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Updated May 13, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Cactuses tagged with graffiti in park near Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. -- National Park Service officials are trying to determine what can be done about graffiti spray-painted on cactuses and other objects along a hiking trail in Saguaro National Park near Tucson.

Somebody used black paint to write acronyms and symbols on about 16 cactuses, signs and boulders along a trail in the Rincon Mountain's foothills east of Tucson, said Andy Fisher, the park's chief of interpretation. Many of the cactuses are 100 to 150 years old.

The vandalism probably occurred Saturday afternoon, and whoever did it hiked about three miles up the trail, Fisher said Monday.

According to Fisher, the signs can be repainted and boulders scrubbed, but she says park officials are now investigating whether anything can be done about the paint on the saguaros.

``We've never had this problem before. We are investigating what our options are,'' she said. ``Anything we would normally do to rock would obviously damage the saguaro.''

Fisher said park officials planned to consult Pima County officials to see if they've had experience with removing graffiti from cactus in Tucson Mountain Park on the city's west side.

Park officials have yet to determine who is responsible but have received messages from people who may have seen something, Fisher said.

Saguaro National Park has two districts, one east of Tucson and one west of Tucson. Both have large stands of cactuses, while the east unit also includes a higher-elevation mountain area.

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