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5 men jailed for poaching Blue Ridge ginseng roots

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ASHEVILLE, NC (AP) -- Five men have been sentenced in federal court to jail terms for poaching endangered ginseng roots along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The five men were arrested by federal park rangers and charged with the illegal harvesting or possession of ginseng. They were sentenced separately, the most recent receiving a jail term of 30 days Thursday. The 232 ginseng roots recovered were replanted by the park service.

American ginseng is protected under an international trade convention as an endangered species, but the valuable wild root is often illegally harvested in National Park and US Forest Service lands in Western North Carolina. Permits to collect ginseng root in National Forests are made available each September, but harvesting is prohibited along the parkway and in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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