INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - More than 15 people have been arrested and hundreds of pounds of illegal berries have been seized since the start of the saw palmetto berry season, according to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office.
Saw palmetto berry season started in August. The berries are often used for health benefits and as a natural supplement, officials said, making them a worthwhile target.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, saw palmetto is used for a variety of conditions, including "disorders of the male and female reproductive organs and coughs due to various diseases."
It can also be used as a dietary supplement for urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland, or chronic pelvic pain, migraines, and hair loss.
The Indian River County Sheriff's Office, Sebastian Police Department and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reportedly made over a dozen arrests in connection to the illegal harvesting of these berries, including trespassing, theft and damage to property like fences as posts being cut.
Photo: Indian River County Sheriff's Office
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Deputies are urging residents to report any suspicious activity along the Interstate-95 corridor and/or the Sebastian River Preserve, especially when it gets dark out.