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A plant known as the Venus Fly Trap eats a live bug, Wednesday, June 18, 1997, in Forestville, Calif. The Venus Fly Trap which only eats live insects, is one of a hundred different types of the carnivorous plants that are on display at the California Carnivores. (AP Photo/Lacy Atkins)

Venus flytrap poacher catches prison time for stealing 970 plants


Apparently, poaching Venus flytraps is a thing that people do. 

In fact, a man is facing prison time for poaching 970 Venus flytraps from eastern North Carolina. 

When Paul Simmons Jr., 22,  and three accomplices poached those Venus flytraps, they uprooted almost 3 percent of the entire naturally grown population of the carnivorous plants, according to The Washington Post

That's the only place in the world where the plants grow naturally. In 2014, Gov. Pat McCrory made it a felony to take the carnivorous plant. 

**ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY AUG. 28 **Coastal Carolina professor, Jim Luken, searches a Carolina Bay near Conway S.C. Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005. Luken studies Venus' fly traps and environmental factors that contribute to the rare plant species. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Here's a look at the environment where the carnivorous plants grow. 

Prior to that law, poachers received a $50 fine. 

Simmons and his accomplices, Paul Simmons Sr., 49, Jimmy Wortham, 23, and Malcolm Massey, 30, pulled off the heist in January of 2015, a month after stealing the plant became a felony. 

According to ABC affiliate WWAY, a witness saw a man run across the road with a large bag in nearby Holly Shelter Game Land. 

"Our two options of what we thought maybe is what it was marijuana or Venus flytraps, so we thought if it was Venus flytraps, it's a lot of traps," North Carolina Wildlife Officer Fred Gorchess told the TV station. 

The group of men said they were out birdwatching, but Gorchess saw the Venus flytraps and arrested them. 

This week Simmons was sentenced to six to 17 months in prison, according to Port City Daily. Two of his accomplices will receive probation and another is awaiting trial. 

According to The Nature Conservancy, flytraps are stolen every year, but it is difficult to catch the poachers. 

The best way to preserve the carnivorous plant is to only buy flytraps from reputable sources. Flytraps sold at flea markets, on the roadside or over the Internet could be stolen.

Venus flytrap poacher catches prison time for stealing 970 plants

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