Feds jail Great Smoky Mountains National Park ginseng poacher

By: AP
By: AP

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Broke and down on his luck, Billy Joe Hurley turned to the only way he knew how to make a living: poaching ginseng.

But after his latest in a long string of arrests, federal prosecutors in North Carolina had enough. The 46-year-old Hurley of Bryson City pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 1/2 months in jail.

Prosecutors told a U.S. magistrate Thursday in Asheville that poaching in the national forests in western North Carolina has dramatically reduced the ginseng population.

In an area where jobs are scarce and poverty high, roots can fetch more than $900 a pound.

Digging ginseng -- or `sang, as some still call it -- has been an Appalachian tradition for generations.

But state and federal wildlife officials fear it could wipe out a regional treasure.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:


6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2015 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 273233961 - local8now.com/a?a=273233961
Gray Television, Inc.