A judge found two men guilty on a long list of charges related to hunting for the herb ginseng.
Gary Lee Farris, 50, of Westernport, Md., and John Darryl Mayhew, 48, of Piedmont, W.Va., were charged by authorities with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with harvesting ginseng out of season, collecting ginseng without a permit, removing and damaging plants from state lands and using property of state wild lands for commercial gain.
According to Western Maryland Research & Education Center, ginseng is in high demand and has anti-tumor, anti-viral, antioxidant, and metabolic effects. Wild and wild-simulated ginseng can be worth $400-$600.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police said they arrested Farris and Mayhew during a search for a missing hiker in June at Savage River State Forest. Authorities said 65 searchers looked throughout some 6,000 acres on foot and horseback to find 72-year-old James Lewis Alt from Piedmont, W.Va.
Authorities said Alt, Farris and Mayhew were hunting for ginseng while the season was closed. Alt was charged with harvesting ginseng out of season, collecting ginseng without a permit, removing, damaging, plants from state lands, and using property of state wild lands for commercial gain. A trial for his charges has not been scheduled.
A judge fined Farris and Mayhew $500 plus court costs. Those fees will be suspended after successful completion of one year unsupervised probation. They do, however, have to pay $500 in restitution for Maryland National Resources Police.