BURGAW, N.C. -- A North Carolina man will spend at least six months in prison after he removed nearly 1,000 Venus Flytrap plants from public game lands.
Media outlets reported that a jury found 23-year-old Paul Simmons Jr. guilty. A judge sentenced him Tuesday to six months to 17 months in prison.
Venus Flytraps only grow in wetlands in southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina. The carnivorous plants trap bugs to survive. They are protected, and poaching them was made a felony in North Carolina in December 2014.
Prosecutors say Simmons was caught by a wildlife officer with 970 plants in his vehicle in January 2015 at the Holly Shelter Game Land in Hampstead.
Two others with Simmons received probation, while a fourth defendant is awaiting trial.