Tonto National Forest officials say a rare Crested Saguaro cactus has been mutilated in a wilderness area northeast of Phoenix.
A permitted outfitter guide notified forest officials Thursday about the cactus, which had its renowned crested top cut off.
Forest officials say an investigation has started to determine the cause of the damage. The Four Peaks Wilderness currently is under fire closure orders.
The Crested Saguaro cactus also is known as a Fan-top cactus. It is classified under Arizona law as a highly safeguarded and protected native plant.
According to state law, it's unlawful to "destroy, dig up, mutilate, collect, cut, harvest, or take any living highly safeguarded native plant."
Some cactus specialists believe that only one saguaro out of perhaps 150,000 develop a crest.
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