A 150-year-old saguaro cactus was seriously damaged last week, after it was shot multiple times with a shotgun, officials said.
On Wednesday, a Saguaro National Park science crew discovered the damaged saguaro in the park's west district, according to a news release from the park.
“There was significant damage to the main stem and one of the branches on the large and mature saguaro,” said Chief Ranger Ray 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.”
Park officials believe the injured saguaro to be between 100 and 150 years old, the release said.
Science crew members found shotgun casings on the ground near the saguaro, and it appears the cactus was shot up to 14 times. The shells were taken into evidence and sent for forensic testing, according to the release.
The damage saguaro is located north of Golden Gate Road off Sandario Road and park scientists think the shooting occurred at least a week ago and possibly within the last four weeks, the release said.
Law enforcement rangers with the National Park Service are asking for the public's help in gathering information about the vandalism. Anyone with information is asked to call the National Park Service Investigative Service Tipline at 888-653-0009, which allows callers to remain anonymous.
Penalties for damaging park resources and discharging a firearm within the park could include up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine, the release said.