In Arizona, they take their cactuses critically. And the saguaro, the tall, spiny, multiarmed image of the West, is taken most critically of all. Mess with one and it’s possible you’ll encounter one of many state’s squad of plant protectors — often called the cactus cops.
The armed officers patrol the desert every day, watching over not simply the saguaro however the prickly pear and leaping cholla. About 350 crops are on the checklist of state and federally protected crops, and officers who discover anybody disturbing a specimen and not using a allow might problem a warning or press expenses. Violating the regulation might imply fines of $500 a plant, plus six months in jail.
Notoriously slow-growing (a half-inch a yr), massive saguaros promote for large cash. So, although the goal shooters and vandals are a menace, the most important menace to the saguaro is capitalism.
The saguaros’ habitat is restricted. They develop solely within the Sonoran desert, which runs from northern Mexico over elements of Arizona, together with Phoenix.
In a panorama the place timber are scarce, the saguaros can attain 50 foot tall and stay for 175 years. Most do not put out an arm till they’re 75 years outdated.
Earlier than the crops might be moved to a nursery, the vendor should get the approval of the landowner after which should apply for a state allow to dig up a selected variety of saguaros. Any cactus bought to a shopper will need to have a state tag proving that it was moved with the federal government’s information.