Investigators seek information about saguaro cactus vandalism

TUCSON - Saguaro National Park is seeking the public’s help with information regarding the shooting of a cactus, according to a media release.

On Wednesday October 4, a park science crew working in the west district discovered a saguaro cactus, which appeared to have been shot multiple times with a shot gun, the release stated.

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

The injured saguaro is estimated to be between 100 and 150 years old, which means it was a seedling before Arizona even became a state, according to the release.

The cactus is located north of the Golden Gate Road just off of Sandario Road, the release stated. The science crew observed shotgun casings on the ground near the cactus, which appears to have been shot up to 14 times.

Scientists believe the damage occurred at least one week ago, but possibly within the last four weeks, according to the release. The shells have been collected for evidence and have been sent for forensic testing.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other illegal activity in Saguaro National Park is encouraged to contact the National Park Service Investigative Service Tipline at 1-888-653-0009. Callers may remain anonymous.

“National Parks belong to all of us,” O’Neil said. “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 $5,000 or six months in jail.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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