WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's not your typical theft, but the victims are not so typical either. The Venus Flytrap, a plant native to our area, is under attack by poachers who have targeted Wilmington's Alderman Park.
Horticulturist Jerry Bell spent endless hours tending to the Venus Flytraps at the park, only to have them stolen weeks later.
"It's not right to do this," Bell said. "You're robbing the citizens of the beauty of this area to be able to come out and enjoy it. You're also robbing someone who spent most of his life and his passion creating this area."
Someone stole nearly 90 percent of the park's Venus Flytraps over the past three weeks.
"We're probably talking 1,500 plants, and I think that's conservative," Bell said.
And with a price tag of nearly $20 each, Bell says the plants stolen value at more than $20,000. He says if this continues, the future of these rare plants is grim.
"If this doesn't stop, it's realistic to say that they'll be few and far between to find flytraps," Bell said.
Valerie Stinson, the manager of Deeply Rooted Gardens, says this could have serious consequences for other plants as well.
"It really does make a big impact on everything else that grows symbiotically with the plants," she said.
But Bell has high hopes for rebuilding this Venus Flytrap sanctuary.
"We're hoping that potentially we can get some seed and reseed the area since so many plants were taken," he said.
Venus Flytraps are protected under state law.
Anyone with information on the poachers is asked to call Wilmington Police's non-emergency line at (910) 343-3600 or send an anonymous text at: TIP708 and the message to CRIMES (274637).