BECKLEY, W.Va. — Over the last two weeks, National Resource Police Officers of District IV have confiscated more than 190 pounds of illegally dug ginseng worth $180,000.
Officer Marshall Richards said the seizures were the result of multiple search warrants and a one-year investigation.
Any ginseng dug before Sept. 1 or after Nov. 30 is dug outside of season and illegally. Ginseng dug during season must be certified by the state by March 31, and buyers must obtain a permit from the Division of Forestry, he said. It is illegal to be in possession of uncertified Ginseng between April 1 and Aug. 31.
Richards said there is been a sharp increase in the amount of ginseng harvested early and sold illegally in West Virginia because of the state’s drug problems as well as in response to reality TV shows.
“People see ginseng dug on reality TV and they think it is a cash cow. It has escalated the amount dug early,” explained Richards. “And we are seeing more people dealing ginseng for pills, other drugs or stolen goods to support drug habits.”
According to Regional Forester Tom Cover, this increase in digging could put West Virginia’s ginseng crops at risk…