Ginseng has been listed as an endangered species for years now. Like anything else that has a hunting season, it’s in place for a reason. When people go and dig ginseng before season begins, they are breaking the law, and should be punished.

This was first reported last year, but it stands as a good reminder to protect our natural resources. If you don’t, you will be prosecuted.

West Virginia natural resources police say they have made 11 arrests and seized 190 pounds of dry ginseng that was illegally harvested.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources estimates the market value of the native herb at $180,000.

The department said Wednesday the arrests followed a year-long investigation in southern West Virginia. Besides the ginseng, they said they also seized stolen guns, illegal drugs and $30,000 in cash.

West Virginia has a ginseng digging season. It begins Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

The department says the seized ginseng was harvested before the digging season began.

Ginseng long has been coveted in many Asian cultures because the plant’s gnarly, multipronged root is believed to have medicinal properties.

Natural resources officials say demand has spurred illegal harvesting.

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Photo: WVVA

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Jason Houser is an avid traditional bowhunter from Central Illinois who killed his first deer when he was nine years old. A full-time freelance writer since 2008, he has written for numerous national hunting magazines. Jason has hunted big game in 12 states with his bow, but his love will always be white-tailed deer and turkeys. He considers himself lucky to have a job he loves and a family who shares his passion for the outdoors. Jason writes full time and is on the pro staff of two archery companies; in his free time, he fishes and traps as much as possible.