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Published April 05, 2011, 12:00 AM

North Dakota man pleads not guilty in orchid-spraying case

FARGO – The owner of a weed-spraying company has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges ac­cusing him of killing endangered flowers on the Sheyenne National Grasslands near Lisbon.

FARGO — The owner of a weed-spraying company who is accused of spraying pesticide on a threatened flower species has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges.

Federal court records say Matthew Hanson is going on trial May 6 in Fargo. The trial is expected to last one day.

Hanson is accused of spraying pesticide without permission last June on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in Ransom County in southeastern North Dakota.

He's also accused of damaging about 200 Western prairie fringed orchids. The orchid is a threatened species of flower, which means there's a possibility it could become extinct. They have been on the federal threatened species list since 1989.

Authorities claim that an employee of Hanson's company sprayed the orchids last summer while spraying weeds in roadside ditches.

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