On August 25, 2016, Wol Kang, 63, of Huntsville, Ala., was convicted in Madison County district court on two charges pertaining to the possession of wild American ginseng out of season. Kang was fined a total of $2,605 for purchasing ginseng during a closed season and failing to register as a ginseng dealer. He was arrested in July 2016 and released on bond pending the court date.
The arrest and conviction is the result of a months-long cooperative investigation conducted by two divisions of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) – State Lands and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) – with assistance from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI), which is charged with overseeing the laws that regulate the collection and sale of wild ginseng in the state.
“The interagency cooperation is what made the investigation and subsequent arrest on multiple charges successful,” said Luke Lemley, WFF Senior Conservation Enforcement Officer, who along with fellow senior officer Joe Lindsey carried out the arrest of Kang. “The arrest would not have been possible without the expertise of ADAI and the cooperation between State Lands staff and WFF law enforcement districts one and two. Without these agencies working together, this illegal ginseng dealing/purchase could easily have gone unchecked. Everyone involved went outside the scope of their normal duties to make this happen.”
While uncommon in most of the U.S., wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can be abundant in localized parts of north Alabama, but its harvest is regulated by law because of intense overseas demand and high prices on the Asian ginseng market. That demand is driven by ginseng’s perceived medicinal benefits. In recent years, wild American ginseng has fetched $700-$1,200 per pound.
To legally collect ginseng in Alabama, “diggers” must obtain a permit from ADAI. To buy ginseng in Alabama and export it out of state, one must register with ADAI as a ginseng dealer. The permit and registration must be renewed each year in order to continue legally collecting or exporting ginseng. The season for legal ginseng collection is September 1 through December 31. For more information about collecting ginseng in Alabama, visit www.agi.alabama.gov.
WFF relies upon a concerned public to report wildlife law violations. To report these violations, please call the Operation GameWatch line at 1-800-272-4263.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.