Three Charged with Venus Flytrap Poaching

Plants replanted by Conservancy staff

Flytrap close up

The inside of one of the state's most famous carnivorous plants

Durham, NC | January 24, 2012

Three Brunswick county residents were charged with poaching Venus flytraps from The Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve in Brunswick County. The flytraps have been returned safely to their home in the swamp, and the Conservancy remains vigilant for the ever-present problem of poaching.

“They’re stealing our natural heritage,” says Angie Carl, who works in the Conservancy’s Wilmington office. “This is a problem for everyone. Venus flytraps are only found in this tiny corner of the entire world. They’re depleting one of the only viable populations of flytraps remaining in the wild.”

The three charged are: Kasey Gerald Whaley, Joyce Zarol Whaley and Elizabeth Ann Whaley. All are residents of Shallotte. They were charged with taking protected plants without the written consent of the landowner, which is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Their next court date is March 27.

Carl says the poachers were caught Monday because of the combined efforts of several state agencies. Staff from the N.C. Division of Forest Resources notified Carl about suspicious activity at the preserve. She then contacted officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission who apprehended the poachers.

“This is a heads-up. We hope that the many law-abiding people who know the Green Swamp and other preserves will keep an eye out for unusual activity and call the Wildlife Resources Commission,” Carl explained. Poaching can be reported to the Commission at 1-800-662-7137.

Two hundred flytraps were dug up Monday. Conservancy staff replanted the flytraps.

You can help stop this illegal behavior by buying flytraps from reputable sources, which have cultivated them in greenhouses. If you see someone selling flytraps at a flea market, on the roadside or over the Internet, there is a good chance that they are stolen. Flytraps are easily reproduced legally. Southeastern Community College in Whiteville has a program that teaches students how to reproduce flytraps through cloning. Legal flytraps are available through a number of sources, including the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill.

Background on Venus flytraps

Most plants need nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. But Venus flytraps live in bogs with relatively poor soil that doesn’t contain many nutrients. Flytraps instead eat the plentiful insects found there. Eating those insects provides flytraps and other carnivorous plants that are found in the same neighborhoods with essential nutrients.

There is only one species of Venus flytrap and it only occurs in the wild in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. The Conservancy has protected thousands of acres of flytrap habitat. In addition to the 17,424-acre Green Swamp in Brunswick County, the Conservancy has also protected habitat in Onslow, Pender and New Hanover counties.

In 2005, the North Carolina Legislature underscored the Venus flytraps’ position in our natural heritage – naming it the state’s official carnivorous plant.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Debbie Crane
Director of Communications
4705 University Drive, Suite 290
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 794-4373

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