Green Pitcher Plant

Endangered Plant Species brought into Seattle.

Simlar Plants found on Oregon Coast

Junction City plant collector Dean Cook has been charged with illegally bringing two endangered species into the United States. The operator of Cook’s Carnivorous Plants, a nursery specializing insect eating plant varieties, was charged with a federal misdemeanor for importing two canebrake pitcher plants and one green pitcher plant without the proper permits.

Cook is expected to plead guilty later this week in Eugene’s U.S. District Court, and will likely face a fine and community service time, his attorney, Matthew Schindler reported to the Eugene Register-Guard.

Both varieties of rare, carnivorous plants found in Cook’s possession are on the federal endangered species list; the green pitcher plant is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Scott Bradford, an Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case, said that, although both plants are native to the American southeast, it is illegal to import specimens of the plants that were grown outside the country without proper authorization.

The plants were discovered at Seattle’s federal plant inspection station as they were being brought into the country, prompting an investigation that lead to Cook, Bradford said. Schindler stated that the box the plants were in was clearly labeled “endangered species,” and that Cook had no intention of deceiving authorities; he merely had the wrong permit.

The crime at hand was a regulatory one, Schindler stated, not an environmental one. “[Cook] will…acknowledge his responsibility for this misdemeanor and accept his fine and go back to his business with a far better idea of how…to conduct things,” Schindler said. “[Cook] is a decent man. He loves the plants.” Schindler maintains that there was never any ill intent on Cook’s part, and that the proper importation permits have since been obtained.

In addition to collecting plants such as the three pitcher plants which brought about the charges, Cook also sells rare and carnivorous plants via the internet. Cook reportedly had no specimens of canebrake pitchers or green pitchers in his collection, and, in his enthusiasm, failed to ensure the correct permits were on hand.

Though the pitcher plants are not native to Oregon, a plant in the same family—the cobra lily, or Darlingtonia californicacan be found on the Oregon coast.