A needle prick in the not-too-distant future just might safeguard Saguaro National Park's namesake cactus from thieves.
The prickly plants, which can easily live 150 years and rise to 20 feet tall, are increasingly popular with thieves because of what they can retail for in the home landscape business. When a 6-inch cutting can sell for $25, well, you can imagine how high the prices might escalate for larger specimens.
As a result, at Saguaro, which has been a preserve for the iconic cactus, officials have been brainstorming ways to protect them from theft. One solution under consideration is to inject some saguaros with microchips that could later be used to identify a particular saguaro as having been pilfered from the national park. The idea is that thieves might leave saguaros alone if they think they might be toting a microchip.
"They're the exact type of microchips that are used in domestic animals like dogs and cats," Chief Ranger Bob Love told the Tuscon Citizen.
Saguaro is not the only national park unit turning to microchips to safeguard its resources. Ranger Love told the newspaper that officials at Lake Mead National Recreation Area have been using them to deter cacti theft, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials rely on them to slow antler theft from the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming.