FEBRUARY 13, 1996

POLKTON - Medium custody state prisoners are making traps for a destructive predator, the leaf-eating gypsy moth. Starting Feb. 20, Brown Creek Correctional Institution inmates are folding pieces of pre-cut cardboard into 40,000 traps for the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

For the past 24 years, the tent-shaped traps have been hung each spring in a coordinated trapping system throughout the state, ensnaring thousands of moths. Gypsy moths have defoliated millions of oak trees in northern states. Instead of pulling agricultural employees off their regular assignments, Plant Pest Specialist Supervisor John Scott requested help from the Department of Correction.

"It's good to be a partner with the Correction Department in this laborious task," Scott said.

The first group of inmates on the prison assembly-line counts out 100 cardboard cut-outs. The next group staples a strip of pheromone cord that attracts the gypsy moth to the trap. As the trap moves to the next phase, inmates fold the cardboard into the shape of a tent. A perforated hole is then punched in the top and flagging inserted so the trap can be hung from trees.

About 10 inmates are working on this project which is expected to last three weeks.

"The gypsy moth project fits well in high security prisons where inmates can work within the confines," Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman said. "The Department of Correction would like more jobs like this one keeping inmates working inside the prisons while helping other government agencies."