Four Florida men have been arrested and charged with misdemeanors for picking berries in Bluffton Woods.
But these weren’t just any berries – they were saw palmetto berries, selling for between $1 and $3 a pound.
They harvested nearly 2,000 pounds of berries. Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserveaccording to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
On October 8, several people contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to report that their trail cameras recorded men carrying buckets and bags into the reserve’s woods. According to the DNR, it’s home to slush pine and offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and bird watching.
The next day, police went to the area and caught the man after seeing him illegally picking pine yarrow berries, said DNR spokesperson Greg Lucas. The berries are about the size of an olive. and used in medicine Treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasiaAccording to Mount Sinai Medical Center, this is an enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto capsules are not regulated and are sold over the counter and online.
The men were taken to the Beaufort County Jail and released on bail on Monday.
According to Lucas, men came from Florida to South Carolina “regularly” because of “strict laws and regulations regarding picking berries in Florida.”
“The estimated value of what they had was about $3,000, and they had been picking berries for several days earlier,” Lucas said.
The sheriff’s office estimated in a report that the man collected between 40 and 50 50-pound bags of berries worth $15,000. The total amount of berries collected by the men and their value was unknown.
It is illegal under the law to remove anything from land designated as a heritage reserve (the highest form of protection for land). estate trust lawa law created to protect endangered species sites.
According to Lucas, the kiosks at the Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve have signs informing guests that the wildlife in the area should not be harmed or altered.
Lucas said the man was charged with violating a wildlife management zone.This offense is a misdemeanor and if convicted they could be fined somewhere between $200 and $500, imprisonment for 30 days, or both. Furthermore, according to the DNR, those convicted of this offense will not be allowed to return to the land for two years and will not be allowed to hunt or fish on the land for one year.
The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette do not identify individuals arrested for misdemeanors unless they have the public trust.