Wired Saguaros Stop Cacti Crime

Park Service implants saguaros with microchips to prevent theft

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The majestic saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert is more than a symbol of the southwest—it’s also worth some serious bills. Cactus rustlers regularly heist the many-armed, spiny behemoths from Saguaro National Park and sell them for as much as $1,000 each. But the National Park Service hopes to thwart would-be saguaro swipers by implanting dime-sized microchips into marquee specimens.

The chips will enable rangers to track down and identify stolen saguaros, and wand-equipped rangers can scan trucks and other vehicles for concealed cacti within the park. Officials hope this will curb the rampant theft that occurs in the park to feed a thriving saguaro black market. Last year, officials caught robbers who’d dug up 17 saguaros and hidden them for later transportation.

Saguaros are sensitive giants that can live for up to 200 years, grow 50 feet tall and weigh several tons, and take 50 years to flower. You’d think being festooned with sharp needles would be enough to keep people from grabbing them, but maybe this new technology will further help cut down cactus crime.

Meanwhile, I have a new career ambition: To become a cactus cop. I bet they carry a sick badge.

— Ted Alvarez

Feds plan to imbed computer chips in Arizona park’s saguaros to counter cactus thieves (LA Times)

Via High Country News The GOAT Blog

Trending on Backpacker