(02/11/2005)
Bring back those mountain lions, says James McGraw, a WVU biologist, who has written an article for a national magazine regarding the possible extinction of ginseng.

McGraw says man and deer are the two obstacles between ginseng and its long-term survival.

McGraw's ideas are in the latest edition of Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He says natural, slow-growing ginseng, a cash crop in Appalachia, could be extinct within 100 years if deer keep grazing at current rates.

He contends there are two ways to ensure the plant's survival. Reintroduce mountain lions or other natural predators to the Appalachians, or loosen hunting restrictions to reduce deer herds.

DNRs Curtis Taylor says he wouldn't dream of reintroducing mountain lions.

Buddy Davidson with the Department of Agriculture says coyotes, whose numbers are soaring, will take care of the deer.

At least ten-thousand West Virginians dig ginseng each fall, with the root being used for everything from headaches to sexual dysfunction.


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