Stupid shooting

  • Target of vandals

    The Arizona Republic/J. Samora
  The large cactus on Arizona's Tonto National Forest near Phoenix wasn't menacing anyone, yet it now stands riddled with holes, the shooting target of vandals. The three arms of the approximately 250-year-old saguaro were shot until they fell to the ground. The Maricopa County attorney's office will arraign five suspects, all under age 20, who were identified in a joint investigation conducted by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Forest Service. Detective Ken Lignoski says the suspects were out shooting at small animals and cacti - -just being stupid." Destroying saguaros is a felony in Arizona, and conviction could result in as much as a $100,000 fine and a three-year prison term. Jim McGinnis, manager of the native-plant program at the state Department of Agriculture, says saguaros probably sustain more injuries than commonly thought. "Hunters get out there and if they don't get any game, they have to blast at something," he told the Arizona Republic. But Richard Stephenson, legislative liaison for the state Game and Fish Department, says hunters receive too much blame for cactus shootings. "Real hunters don't do a lot of shooting. That scares the game away."