WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The state's Plant Conservation Board is looking to beef up penalties for poachers, less than two months after a thousand Venus fly traps were stolen from Wilmington’s Alderman Park.
In light of recent events at Alderman Park, state officials say they are trying to make stealing the rare, carnivorous Venus Fly Trap plants a class "H" felony.
“We will hopefully establish it as an endangered species, which is the highest level that we have,” State Plant Conservation Board Chair Mark Rose said.
He says it is vital regulators come up with ways to protect these precious plants.
When Donna Carr, a science and math teacher, found out nearly 90% of the population was stolen from Alderman Park, she says she was horrified.
“They spent a lot of time and effort to create that environment for those plants,” Carr said.
"Venus Fly Traps are indigenous to this area, and we are gradually taking all their habitats away,” she adds.
Carr thinks poaching these plants should be considered a serious offense.
“I think that there should be a repercussion that would make a difference to make them think about whether they were going to steal those plants, or not,” Carr said.
Officials say the process could take more than a year.
And this wouldn't be the first plant to suffer dire consequences for being uprooting. Currently taking Ginseng from someone's property with intent to steal is also considered a class “H” felony.
Right now, Venus Fly Trap poachers can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. The draft proposed by the board would also include a five dollar replacement cost for each plant taken.