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Century-old national park saguaro blasted with shotgun

A 100-150-year-old towering cactus in Saguaro National Park was recently shot up multiple times, and authorities are asking the public for help finding the vandal.

The protected plant is not expected to survive, park spokesman Andy Fisher said.

The saguaro, north of Golden Gate Road just off Sandario Road west of Tucson, was found damaged on Wednesday by a park science crew.

"The injured saguaro is estimated to be 100 to 150 years old, which means it was a seedling before Arizona became a state," Fisher said.

The cactus appears to have been shot up to 14 times with a shotgun. Spent shells were found on the ground nearby, he said. The plant stands 15-20 feet tall.

"There was significant damage to the main stem and one of the branches on the large and mature saguaro," according to 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."

National park scientists believe the damage occurred at least one week ago, and possibly within the last month, Fisher said. The shells have been collected and the evidence sent for forensic testing.

Anyone with information regarding this incident in Saguaro National Park is encouraged to contact the National Park Service Investigative Service Tipline at 1-888-653-0009. Callers may remain anonymous, Fisher said.

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"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.

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Saguaro National Park

A cactus in Saguaro National Park was damaged by shotgun blasts sometime in the past month, authorities said.