Park rangers reviewing trail camera footage after saguaros slashed

Published: Jan. 26, 2016 at 12:22 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Saguaro National Park rangers are reviewing trail camera footage and asking the public for help after 16 cacti were destroyed by vandals over the weekend.

It happened along Gould Canyon Trail, which runs next to the King Canyon trail off Kinney Road, right across the street from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Ray O'Neil, chief park ranger, said officials were notified about the damage by a park visitor on Saturday, Jan. 23.

When they investigated, officials found nine saguaros sliced by what they believe was a "relatively large, sharp, heavy object."

O'Neil said the park was formed to protect the majestic saguaros.

They are also protected by Arizona's Native Plant Law.

The saguaros that were vandalized were between 30 and 150 years old.

In addition to the nine saguaros, O'Neil said six prickly pear cacti, and two teddy bear chollas were also destroyed.

Now, park rangers are asking the public if anyone saw someone hiking into the park with such a destructive tool.

Marcia Buckingham, who was visiting the park on Monday, Jan. 25 said she was sad to hear about the vandalism.

"Oh, it's just horrible. I can't even imagine what anybody would gain by doing that ... pure vandalism," Buckingham said.

Rangers investigated a similar act of vandalism in the park about two years ago.

"The issues two years ago had to do with young people acting inappropriately. They didn't know better and we did catch them, and there were consequences for their actions," O'Neil said.

Rangers said the consequences for such a crime could be severe, as it is a federal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

If you have any information, park rangers are asking you to call 520-733-5118.

Related: National Park Service searching for suspect in cactus vandalism

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