Venus flytrap poaching

Photo by Skip Pudney

Our little neck of the woods is very special for many reasons; oldest cypress trees, high biodiversity, and fire dependent ecosystems to name a few and all of which I have discussed in previous posts.  But one that I think is more special than all of that other stuff is the Venus flytrap.  The name alone conjures thoughts of old horror movies where plants eat screaming starlets, but in reality the plant is the vulnerable one.

The Southeast Coastal Plain is the only region of the world where the Venus flytrap grows naturally; outside.  I say outside because often there is confusion as the Venus flytrap is grown in nurseries all over the world but in the natural world it only grows here.  That is special.  This is incredible for the natural heritage of this region, the coolest endemic species on the planet, one that even Charles Darwin was in awe of.  But life is hard for the Venus flytrap.

Flytrap with prey, photo by Skip Pudney

Development in this region is happening at one of the highest rates in the country, and this is a detriment to the natural populations of Venus flytraps.  Ironically the cool ecology of the plant is also a detriment.  A meat-eating plant that traps its prey with a slingshot mouth covered in “teeth” – what child in America, heck the whole world, wouldn’t want one of these as a pet?  Well this market value has increased the problem of poaching the plants from private property.

In NC the Venus flytrap is a protected species so if the plant is removed from private property without landowner permission it is poaching and is a class 2 misdemeanor.  We have many preserves that have Venus flytraps and we do occasionally catch people poaching the plants from our preserves.  In fact Monday three people were arrested in the Green Swamp poaching, they had 200 plants in their possession.  Check out this WWAY report featuring our own Angie Carl for more details!

Replanting the poached Venus flytraps in the Green Swamp

Since the poachers were caught and the plants recovered we were able to replant them immediately, but the survival rate is usually less that 50%.  What a loss.  Natural populations of Venus flytraps are in trouble.  According to the NC Natural Heritage Program there are only 13 viable populations left in this region and these populations are stressed by development and poaching every day.  It would be a horrible loss for the Southeast Coastal Plain if there were no more natural occurring Venus flytraps.

Check out our new Venus flytrap brochure for more information.  If you would like to help protect the Venus flytrap directly please contact our office.

About secpnc

My name is Sara Babin and I am the Conservation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy Southeast Coastal Plain program in Wilmington, NC. Our office is responsable for the maintenance and restoration of 35,000 acres of preserve land owned by The Nature Conservancy. We protect the land for ecologically significant species in hopes to ensure a lasting natural history legacy for future generations to enjoy. This blog will highlight our most exciting activities and events with much of the focus being on our controlled burn program. With this blog we hope to share the ins and outs of what we do and how it is bettering the world for plants, animals, and people.
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