PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The saguaro cactus is considered by some to be a symbol of southern Arizona.
Sunday afternoon, Tucson News Now's own Dan Marries stumbled upon a saguaro covered in more than the usual spines and blooms.
The cactus, located near Cortaro Farms Road and Thornydale Road, was covered in graffiti.
Kendrick Buckley, a manager for Old Pueblo Cactus, was shocked to hear of the vandalism.
"Oh wow," he said. "These plants are so beautiful. I hate seeing any unnatural parts such as graffiti marking up these plants."
Buckley said removing the graffiti could cause more damage to the cactus than the actually tagging itself. Power washing or scrubbing the plant could remove a protective layer that would leave the saguaro overexposed to the sun.
The City of Tucson has a hotline and mobile app for reporting graffiti, but vandalism to saguaros like this should be reported to law enforcement, according to spokeswoman Lane Mandle with the city manager's office.
Deputy James Allerton, a spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department, agreed that law enforcement should be notified about situations like this. If it's a matter for another agency, or possibly the state, Allerton said the responding agency will notify the necessary people.
Damaging a saguaro is a crime in Arizona. They are protected by the Native Plants Act.