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Buchanan County man pleaded guilty to illegal ginseng harvest

  • 1/12/2021 12:54:00 PM
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A joint investigation on Sept. 29, 2020, between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office into illegal wild ginseng harvest led officers to Mathew Wilkinson, 34, of Independence, who was found in possession with 10 separate wild ginseng roots totaling three ounces, and evidence that Wilkinson had dug the roots from a Buchanan County Conservation Board property.

Wilkinson pleaded guilty to five charges of failing to retain the entire plant while transporting ginseng roots. The scheduled fine for each count of illegal ginseng harvest is $195, totaling $975 for the five counts.

Wild ginseng falls under the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which is an international agreement between governments, that’s aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Its popularity in Asian countries has essentially led to its extirpation there.

Ginseng harvest is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At no point can a person possess a wild ginseng plant, seed or any part of a wild ginseng plant on state owned or managed areas. The State of Iowa is required to highly regulate the plant. More information on ginseng is available online at under Ginseng Growers, Harvesters & Dealers drop down.