Update Monday 8 p.m. — The Wildlife Resources Commission responded to questions from earlier in the morning.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY — A Brunswick County man was arrested Saturday on 73 counts of the felonious taking of the Venus Flytrap, a vulnerable species in North Carolina.
Archie Lee Williams Jr., 41, is being held on a $750,000 secured bond in the Brunswick County jail.
According to Emily Flax, spokesperson for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, the case is being handled by the Wildlife Resources Commission, not the county.
Williams’ arrest is the first large-scale case of Venus Flytrap stealing in years.
In 2014, flytrap poaching shifted from a misdemeanor to a felony. Stealing the plant, indigenous to a 60-to-70 mile radius of Wilmington, is now punishable by up to 25 months in prison.
The tiny carnivorous plant is listed as a “vulnerable” species on the state’s protected plants list. Environmentalists and officers tasked with protecting the plant from poachers cited difficulty in the past with identifying whether the plants were grown or poached.
According to the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), Williams was caught on camera. He was later apprehended with over 200 plants and digging tools. Williams admitted to a WRC officer that he habitually poaches Venus Flytraps from multiple locations around the area.
According to the WRC, poaching of Venus Flytraps is relatively common, though catching a poacher is rather rare.
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