There is a possible 25 years in prison for cutting down a cactus.

The giant Saguaro cactus has been endangered by those who find pleasure in shooting or cutting down cacti. Thus, a law was passed to protect the cactus. Even on your own property, you are required to notify the Arizona Department of Agriculture, which will provide a permit for the cactus to be relocated. In May 2014, a 16-year old was caught defacing a Saguaro and faced felony criminal-damage charges.

ARS 3-908:Prohibited acts; use of permits, tags, seals and receipts

A. Except as provided in this chapter, it is unlawful for a person to destroy, dig up, mutilate, collect, cut, harvest or take any living highly safeguarded native plant or the living parts of any highly safeguarded native plant, including seeds or fruit, or any other living protected native plant or the living parts of any other protected plant, except seeds or fruit, from state land or public land without obtaining any required permit, tags, seals or receipts from the department, or from private land without obtaining written permission from the landowner, and any required permit, tags, seals or receipts from the department. It is unlawful for a person to falsify any paper or document issued to give permission for a person to take native plants of the protected group or to take more protected native plants than authorized by the permit or to take protected native plants from areas other than authorized by the permit.

B. Permits issued for the removal of protected native plants, or any parts of protected native plants, except permits issued for the salvage of salvage assessed native plants, shall be granted only on submission to the division of an application executed by both the landowner or his agent and the party who intends to be the permittee, after being completed by either or both, and are valid for a stated period of time to allow the permittee to remove the specific amount of plants, by-products, fiber or wood stated in the permit, or that period of time stated by the landowner as part of the landowner’s permission, whichever is shorter. The permit expires on the termination date shown on the permit, when the tags and seals issued with the permit have been attached to the plants covered by the permit and the plants are no longer in the possession of the permittee or when the receipts have been transferred to the purchaser of the wood covered by the receipts.

C. A permit is valid for taking plants or parts of plants listed on the permit but not removed from the land described in the permit until the permit’s expiration or for one year from the date of issuance, whichever occurs first, except that for any permit the tags and seals, or receipts, issued therewith but not yet used by the permittee become invalid if the land on which the plants are growing, and described in the permit, changes ownership, unless the new owner certifies in writing that the permittee may continue taking the plants or parts of plants as specified on the permit.

D. It is unlawful for a person or scientific or educational institution to misuse a permit in any manner. A permittee shall make permits, tags, seals and receipts available for inspection by the department or any peace officer as provided for in this chapter. A tag, seal or receipt is invalid unless it is issued with a valid permit. A permit is invalid unless it bears the required tag numbers or receipt numbers on its face. It is unlawful to alter or deface any permit, tag, seal or receipt.

E. The director may give written permission for a person or a scientific institution to take a definite number of specified plants in a protected group from areas specified by the department for scientific purposes. In addition the director may give written permission for a person to take specific plants or parts of plants not in the highly safeguarded category from areas specified by the department for salvage or for manufacturing or processing purposes or for the cutting or removal of wood and assess reasonable and proper fees for such taking of the plants or parts of the plants. The director may give written permission for a landowner to transfer specified plants in the protected group from land he owns to another property owned by him, and such permits shall be exempt from fees.

  • Teresa

    This is only for Saguaro which is and endangered species since it only grows in our small region of the southwest. There is also a very hefty fine for any physical damage you cause to one.

  • Felicia

    This isn’t stupid either. Those cacti have been living here longer than some people think, so cutting down something like that SHOULD be punishable.

  • Joe

    I whole-heartedly agree that they shouldn’t be cut down or disturbed in any way whatsoever unless being relocated but endangered? Please, there are probably more Saguaro cacti than there are people in the whole state. Not to mention they go down into Mexico too. Believe me or not, but I spend ALOT of time outdoors all over this beautiful state.

  • lori riola

    just curios is it legal to cu down a healthy saguaro cactus and leave it for bulk trash on residential property where do i go to either find out or report it? i am a firm believer in protecting our state flower do people think it’s o k to shoot the state bird? what’s next?

  • Gabriella

    There are saguaro cactus that have grown for years and are beautiful. They are an endangered species and honestly what good reason would anyone have to cut one down?

  • Danica

    This is not any different than making it illegal to cut down redwoods in CA. There are a bunch, but only in a very select area of the earth. If everyone cut one down, they would be gone. That is why they are protected.

  • Manny

    this only applies to state land, or land you don’t own. if you have a Saguaro on your property and you cut it down there is no penalty.

  • Saguaro take 50 years to grow their first arm, so the ones you see the most pictures of with the 2 arms are over 100 years old. I understand them protecting them, being that a lot of them have been there for over 200 years.