NPS Rangers searching for person that vandalized 100+ year-old cactus

Saguaro Cactus damaged by shotgun bullets. Credit: NPS

The Saguaro National Park in Arizona is trying to determine who was responsible for shooting a saguaro cactus with a shotgun.

Park scientist discovered the damaged cactus Wednesday, October 4 while working in the west district of the park.

“We take all incidents of damage to park resources very seriously. These incidents are investigated, and individuals found to be involved will be held responsible”.

Shotgun damage to Saguaro Cactus National Park
Close-Up of the Shotgun damage

“There was significant damage to the main stem and one of the branches on the large and mature saguaro,” according to Chief Ranger O’Neil. “It is too soon to tell, but we are expecting that the damage is lethal for this old sentinel in the Sonoran Desert.”

A press realease from the National Park Service said that the cactus is estimated to be between 100 and 150 years old, which means it was a seeling before Arizona became a state.

Far away shot of the cactus that was vandalized. Credit: NPS

The science crew that discovered the damaged saguaro found shotgun casing on the ground near the cactus and say it appears that the cactus was shot 14 times.

One Shirt = One Tree
Plant a Seed

NPS Law Enforcement Rangers are requesting the community’s help to gather additional information related to this incident. If you have information regarding this incident you can contact the National Park Service Investigative Service Tipline at 1-888-653-0009. Callers may remain anonymous.

“National Parks belong to all of us,” according to Chief Ranger Ray O’Neil. “We take all incidents of damage to park resources very seriously. These incidents are investigated and individuals found to be involved will be held responsible”.

Penalties for damaging park resources and discharging a firearm within park boundaries may include a fine up to $5000 or six months in jail.

Background on Saguaro National Park

Saguaro (pronounced “sah-wah-roh”) National Park sits to the east and west of Tucson Arizona. Over the years the giant Saguaro has become a symbol of the American west.

The saguaro cactus will only grow in the Sonoran desert. The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States, and will typically reach heights of 40 feet tall. The tallest saguaro cactus ever measured towered over 78 feet into the air.

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