Environment: The Cactus Snatchers

From Southern California to Texas, towering saguaros on front lawns are the hottest thing since plastic pink flamingos. The demand has encouraged an illicit industry: cactus rustling. Many of the specimens bought by homeowners and collectors have been stolen from Government-owned wilderness lands. In Arizona last year more than 200 thieves were fined or given warnings for digging up a variety of state-protected species, most of which have shallow roots. Conservationists are now lobbying for stricter state and federal laws to stop poachers, who are lured by substantial profits. Saguaros, which can take more than 100 years to grow to 6...

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