The recent discovery of vandalism within Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona has some officials concerned. They worry the incident is part of a thrill-seeking trend to deface national parks and monuments across the country. Rangers said the latest episode involves at least 45 spray-painted graffiti tags brandished on landmarks throughout the park–including 16 of the park’s famous 150-year old saguaro cacti.

A New York Times article says that in a similar incident late last year, officials had to clean graffiti from the remote Twin Owls formation in Rocky Mountain National Park, and more recently, the Rattlesnake Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park was closed to clean graffiti from the canyon walls. What remains unclear is the motive behind the acts.

“In the old days,” said Lorna Lange, the spokeswoman for Joshua Tree, “people would paint something on a rock–it wouldn’t be till someone else came along that someone would report it and anybody would know about it. With social media people take pictures of what they’ve done or what they’ve seen. It’s much more instantaneous.”

So far, the person (or persons) responsible for the crimes in Saguaro are unknown, but authorities aren’t giving up hope. In fact, two cactus-choppers were already busted in Saguaro this year when photos taken from a trail camera were broadcast throughout Tuscon. __

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