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More than 1,000 rare Venus Flytraps stolen from Wilmington park

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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).

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Venus fly traps

IVenus fly traps for sale on market warriors on pbs 9.1.2013....
Man selling them claimed they were from Wilmington NC.

Poaching Primarily Happens during Flowering Season

Venus Flytraps are often hard to spot, so poaching is usually confined to the Venus Flytrap's flowering season, usually May each year, when the low-growing Venus Flytraps send up flowerstalks about a foot high or taller, topped with a cluster of small but brilliant white flowers. These flowerstalks and flowers are like fluorescent orange flags for poachers, making the location of Venus Flytraps very easy to see.

It seems to me that because of the facts mentioned above, it might be reasonable to have stronger security measures and monitoring during the Venus Flytrap flowering season, which lasts only a few weeks each year. That is to say, the flowers are visible for only 3-5 weeks, after the flowerstalk forms and before the white petals curl up and brown, making the plant very hard to see again as the flowerstalks and seed pods are plain green like most of the surroundings.

Dont Play the Victim

90% stolen over three weeks? Does this mean the person spending endless hours tending to the park’s Federally protect plant notice on day one a few plants were missing and every day thereafter until the population was at 10%?

Poaching native Venus Flytraps is not a new occurrence. If people are that concerned with protecting the plants, why hasn’t someone installed at least one trail camera with night vision capabilities in a location where it cannot be destroyed or stolen?

why it took so long to discover

The park/rec employee notified the bosses of the thief of the plants as soon as it happened. As with any group this person had to be notified and that person, meetings were held etc. but only when they felt ready was the media notified. This area should not have been made public without some fore thought in how to protect it.

Shameful!

I blame Camilla Herlevich and Diana Corbett, of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust and their Flytrap Frolic. The Coastal Land Trust should have never held public events when it's known that thieves steal these plants. Poor Stanley kept it a secret just for that reason. They were supposted to protect it not exploit it!

I don't know those individuals or that agency...

but I agree with part of what you wrote: Why was the presence of these precious plants so well advertised? It should have remained a secret or better yet, these plants should always be planted randomly in more remote locations if they are to survive. Promoting the presence of these rare plants in a public park was the zenith of naivety.

Why did it take so long to

Why did it take so long to discover 90% of these plants were missing? If they noticed earlier that someone was taking them, the police should have staked the park out. Unfortunately the laws on the books don't make getting caught that big a deal.

Venus fly trap plants stolen

I wish the city would have considered some security before drawing such attention to the area. Now after the fact there is probably little to nothing that can be done. I have a family member who works for the City of Wilmington parks/rec that was deeply distressed by the actions of some thief. I hope camera's or other security measures are taken to save what precious plants are still there. My guess would be they will be back.

FYI: it is nearly impossible for the parks/rec to keep any planted areas nice due to thief of plants.

Just check

Craigslist and the farmer markets in town for anyone that has a bunch of Fly Traps for sale.

I'm sure that's what the low life will be doing....

Making money off of stolen property...

I AGREE. IT SHOULDN'T BE TOO

I AGREE. IT SHOULDN'T BE TOO HARD TO TRACE THE SALE OF SUCH A LARGE AMOUNT OF RARE PLANTS FROM ONE AREA. ANYONE BUYING THE PLANTS IS AS GUILY AS THE ONES THAT STOLE THEM.

There must be a video camera

There must be a video camera somewhere in the vicinity?