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Teenager Arrested for Cutting an Arm Off a Cactus in Scottsdale

Saguaros in Saguaro National Park near Tucson.
Saguaros in Saguaro National Park near Tucson.

Cacti are taken very seriously in Arizona.

Scottsdale police arrested a 16-year-old Gilbert boy yesterday for cutting the arm off a cactus in Pinnacle Peak Park.

According to Scottsdale police, park staff reported seeing a young man with some sort of large knife and machete hiking up a trail in the park, and not long after that, other hikers reported seeing the saguaro with a large arm cut off.

"Upon inspection of the damage, the officer noted that about 12" of the flowering tip of the arm had been cut with a sharp edged weapon," police say in a statement.

Police arrived at the park, and waited for the person with the knife to come back down. Robert M. McClure, a 16-year-old from Gilbert, was the person who came down the trail with the knife, according to police, and he was arrested.

State law protects certain plants, including the saguaro:

Except as provided in this chapter, it is unlawful for a person to destroy, dig up, mutilate, collect, cut, harvest or take any living highly safeguarded native plant or the living parts of any highly safeguarded native plant, including seeds or fruit, or any other living protected native plant or the living parts of any other protected plant, except seeds or fruit, from state land or public land without obtaining any required permit, tags, seals or receipts from the department, or from private land without obtaining written permission from the landowner, and any required permit, tags, seals or receipts from the department. It is unlawful for a person to falsify any paper or document issued to give permission for a person to take native plants of the protected group or to take more protected native plants than authorized by the permit or to take protected native plants from areas other than authorized by the permit.

The boy was released to his mother, but faces a felony criminal-damage charge, according to Scottsdale police.

Police say the 150-year-old saguaro is valued at $10,000.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.


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