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Marijuana plants in Shawano County wildlife area could reveal national trend

The discovery of 8,000 marijuana plants in a Shawano County wildlife area might be part of a national trend.

The state Justice Department says pot-growing operations on public lands have gotten much bigger in size even though the actual number of sites is about the same.

Authorities eradicated the 8,000 marijuana plants in the Navarino Wildlife Area last week.

That was after 9,000 plants were found last year in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin.

State Justice agent Jeff Kostner says growers caught on public lands don't get their property seized, like those caught on private land.

But he also says public sites are more likely to be exposed.

A hunter found the one in Shawano County.

Last year, Wisconsin eradicated about 32,000 marijuana plants found outdoors - and about one-third were growing on public lands.