Venus Flytrap Poacher Is Going to Prison
NC man took 970 rare plants from public land
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2016 12:01 AM CDT
A Venus flytrap n the Green Swamp Preserve in Brunswick County, North Carolina.   (AP Photo/The Nature Conservancy, Jodie LaPoint)
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(Newser) – A North Carolina man will go down in horticultural history as the first person to serve a stretch in prison for felony Venus flytrap poaching. Paul Simmons Jr., 23, was one of four people arrested with 970 of the rare carnivorous plants early last year. On Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of illegally taking the plants and a judge sentenced him to between six to 17 months in prison, the Star-News reports. Simmons and his three accomplices were the first people to be charged under a state law that made poaching the plants a felony on Dec. 1, 2014. Before that, they would have faced a $50 fine.

Venus flytraps are native to coastal bogs in a few small parts of North and South Carolina, and at the time the men were arrested with the plants in their vehicle, authorities believed there were just 35,000 left in the wild. Two of the other men arrested—including Paul Simmons Sr.—were sentenced to probation after pleading guilty, while charges are still pending against a fourth. Port City Daily reports that after the men were arrested, the plants were returned to the public land they were taken from and were successfully replanted.