Federal authorities are seeking the public’s help in spreading the word about a series of saguaro cactus thefts in the Apache Junction area.
Saguaro cactus are a protected species in Arizona. No part of the cactus may be removed without a permit, according to a release.
The cacti were easily dug out because of the wet winter, according to Rob Vaitkus, a special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Mr. Vaitkus said that thefts have taken place at different locations on BLM property, which the city leases for hiking trails around facilities.
“It is beyond awful to see our beautiful resources damaged by careless, opportunistic people,” Liz Langenbach, director of the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department, said in the release. “We want to help our partners at the BLM any way we can. If anyone has any information about these or any other theft, please contact us.”
City park rangers and police worked with the BLM to investigate the thefts and parks staff replanted the cactus that could be salvaged. The city leases BLM land in several locations, including Prospector Park, 3015 N. Idaho Road; and the Apache Junction Rodeo Grounds, 1590 E. Lost Dutchman Blvd.
Community member Darch Oborne brought the thefts to the attention of the parks department and has been a big advocate for investigation, education and replanting of cacti that were dug up and found, the release states.
Mr. Vaitkus said any details or observations are welcome. Contact Mr. Vaitkus at 602-621-1089 or at Robert_vaitkus@blm.gov.