Wigan nature lovers are being asked to turn detective after a new report has revealed that the countryside is being devastated by thieves who are stealing wild flowers to sell on the internet or just to brighten uo their own homes and gardens.
Rare plants and bulbs are being targeted by unscrupulous criminals in the middle of the night before being illicitly sold online, with some endangered species fetching up to £70 each.
Plantlife, a wild flower conservation charity, said the number of thefts may be increasing, but added that the scale of the problem is difficult to assess.
Now people who enjoy the countryside in the borough, places such as Haigh Hall and Pennington Flash which is packed with beautiful wildlife flowers, are being urged to be vigilant to halt the green-fingered ransackers.
A spokesman from Plant Heritage, a leading garden plant conservation charity, said that the thefts - both in gardens and in the wild - were often undertaken by private collectors, or people employed by them.
Rare plants can fetch high prices, although collectors are not necessarily interested in making money out of them. Many just want to own special plants.
Collectors of snowdrops are among the worse but people like to pick bluebells as well, especially at this time of year.
Wild flowers are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) and t is illegal to remove or uproot a plant from the wild.
Flowers growing in council parks are legally off-limits, and the same goes for council-maintained displays on roundabouts or verges, any gardens planted by a community organisation and nature reserves or protected land. And if you persistently snaffle daffodils from your neighbour’s front garden, you could face prosecution for theft, as well as the sharp end of their tongue.