Is it illegal to touch a cactus in Arizona?

Last Updated on June 16th, 2023

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The state of Ariz. protects its cacti to maintain the environment and for your safety, leaving most cacti in the state of being completely protected by the law. It is illegal to remove, shoot, or even drive over most cacti in the state.

However, exactly why is it illegal? Is it a felony? When did these laws take place? First, let’s talk about everything you need to know about the state’s cactus laws, including what cacti you need to look out for.

Some cactuses in different sizes - Is it illegal to touch them in Arizona?

Are Cacti protected in Arizona? 

Yes, cacti are protected by the law in this state. However, while they are not endangered, they continue to be threatened by our growing population. 

According to the National Park Service, the threat continues to grow due to more residential areas being built in the Tucson area.

In order to remove a cactus, even from your own property, you must obtain a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Otherwise, removing the cactus would be illegal. Let’s discuss more of what type of penalty you’d be facing if you were not to follow the law.


Why is it Illegal to Take Cacti in Arizona?

The Saguaro is considered a native plant, making it illegal to take them. When cacti are removed or stolen, it is likely that biologists will attempt to replant those native cacti. While you can obtain your own transplant permit, consulting with a local nursery is best to ensure a successful replant.

The transplant process can be challenging, so it’s important to consult an experienced professional. So when removing a cactus illegally, what kind of consequences are you likely to face?


Is it a Felony to touch a Cactus?

Yes, theft or harm to the saguaro cactus is illegal and can be labeled as a class 4 felony. Not only is it a felony, but you are also likely to receive a hefty amount of fines. Some examples equal to a class 4 felony are listed below.

  • Perjury, bribery, and forgery.
  • Burglary.
  • Kidnapping.
  • Robbery.
  • DUI.


Since when is Cacti a Protected plant?

The Saguaro has been protected since March 1, 1933, when Herbert Hoover recognized the Saguaro National Park as a national monument. This was done because the cacti were seen, and still are seen, today as a symbol of the Southwest and the Sonoran Desert. 

Those who are not Ariz. born and raised will continue to tilt their heads to the cactus law. However, those who are native to the land will understand that the preservation attempts of the Arizona Department of Agriculture are completely worth it all.


Final Thoughts on Illegal Cacti Interactions

It is illegal to shoot, remove, or run into a Saguaro cactus in the state of Arizona. So illegal that it is classified as a level 4 felony, alongside some unforgivable fees. It’s illegal because the cactus has been labeled a native plant and protected by law since 1933. 

You may obtain permits to remove or transplant the cactus from the Arizona Department of Agriculture if the plant is located on your property. 

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