“They Used to Be Considered Farmers”: The Criminalization of Venus Flytrap Harvesting in Coastal North Carolina

Sara Graybeal (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

While the “poaching” of Venus flytraps from public land in coastal North Carolina is now a felony punishable with prison time, flytrap harvesting traditions extend back through generations of coastal North Carolina residents. This paper argues that these harvesting traditions constitute long-term farming relationships between residents and public land, which has been misrepresented by lawmakers, wildlife officers, and mainstream media. I analyze the conservation narratives used to justify state control over these communities’ engagements with nature, while identifying the primary culprit in Venus flytrap species decline: not harvesters, but unchecked coastal development.

Part of 04-12 Folklore and the Environment in the Coastal American South, Friday, November 03, 8:30 am–10:00 am