Date: 17 September 2019
DOC rangers spotted the men carrying over 20 kg of bracket fungus in two “massive bags” in February. The men had used hand saws and an axe to remove the native fungi.
Large bracket or shelf fungi are common in mature forests. They may grow for many years on the trunks of living or dead trees. The two men, originally from China and in their seventies and fifties respectively, collected the woody fungus to brew into a tea. The tea is said to have beneficial properties in traditional medicine use.
“People aren’t always aware that collecting living or dead items from conservation areas is an offence, and when something is highly sought after like this, a lot of damage can occur quickly,” said Ray Scrimgeour, DOC Waikato Operations Manager.
Apart from the risk of depleting the population of a species, harvesting plant material can have wider effects on ecosystems.
Trampling plants, removing habitat and disturbing natural processes are all disruptive to local biodiversity.
DOC is investigating additional reports of people emerging from other Waikato tracks with large shopping bags of illegally harvested fungus. There are also clear signs, such as the scarring of trees on tracks such as Pirongia track, where bracket fungus has been removed.
DOC would like to remind people to always seek landowner permission before removing plant or animal material, including contacting your local DOC office about public conservation land.
Any suspicious activity seen in or around public conservation land should be immediately reported to 0800 DOC HOT.
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