Assemblymember Ward’s AB 223 Will Address Illegal Poaching of California’s Native Dudleya Plants

For immediate release:
  • Contact: Ansermio Estrada
  • (619) 227-0421

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Christopher Ward (D-San Diego) announced legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 223 that makes it unlawful to remove the threatened Dudleya plant from its natural habitat on state lands.

“California’s greatest resources are those found naturally throughout our rich, biodiverse state,” said Assemblymember Ward. “The dramatic increase in Dudleya poaching on our public lands represents the commoditization of something that belongs to all of us. By explicitly making it unlawful to take and sell Dudleya removed from state lands, AB 223 will help deter Dudleya poaching and establish clear enforcement guidelines for law enforcement.”

Poachers have been harvesting Dudleya by the thousands, targeting larger more mature plants along California’s coast, then shipping and selling them overseas. The issue has gained international media coverage, including a new documentary debuting at the South by Southwest festival this week.

“People are aware of ivory poaching, but few know about the damage plant poaching can cause,” said filmmaker Chelsi De Cuba, who produced and directed the Plant Heist documentary with her brother Gabriel De Cuba. “We were shocked to learn about the extent of the problem and expect many others will be after watching the film.”

AB 223 will make it unlawful to sell or possess with the intent to sell any Dudleya illegally taken from its natural habitat and establishes minimum penalties of $5,000 per plant for the first offense, and $40,000 per plant for any subsequent offenses.

“A Dudleya black market should be treated with the same concern as we would a black market for baby California condors," said Nick Jensen, lead conservation scientist for the California Native Plant Society. “We have protection for animal poaching, but we need to do more for plants so that we protect all kinds of creatures from being driven extinct by the next fad."

This kind of plant loss is catastrophic, especially since 10 species of Dudleya are already listed as threatened or endangered by the state or federal government and face conservation challenges, including habitat loss from development and wildfires. Poaching further threatens and puts the many species of Dudleya at an elevated risk of extinction, threatening the biodiversity of our great state.

For questions on AB 223, or to schedule an interview with Assemblymember Ward, contact Ansermio Estrada. To learn more about Plant Heist the movie, visit https://siblingrivalrycreative.com/plantheist.

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