Illegal saw palmetto berry harvesting operation discovered

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
saw palmetto berries
FWC officers and K9 Jenny discover saw palmetto berry harvesting operation. CREDIT: FWC

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and their K-9, Jenny, discovered bags, baskets and backpacks stuffed with illegally harvested saw palmetto berries.

According to FWC, officers heard multiple people running away through the dense brush when they arrived at the scene.

Not content with the saw palmetto berry discovery, Jenny alerted her human FWC partners to more equipment they left at the scene.

Afterward, state park rangers dispersed the recovered berries throughout the habitat.

FWC only said the discovery was at a Florida state park, according to a tag on a Facebook post.

Saw palmetto berries are a quality food resource for over 200 wildlife species in the area, so the picked food source won’t go to waste. Moreover, because the plant the berries develop from is slow-growing, illegal harvesting also affects the plant’s ability to spread through the ecosystem.

Harvesting these berries on state land can carry a penalty of a jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500 per conviction. In this case, there is potential for charges of theft, grand theft and trespassing.

The Florida Department of Agriculture requires a permit to harvest and sell saw palmetto berries in Florida. Click here to find out how to apply for a permit.

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