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Saguaro cacti vandalized along Cave Creek trail

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. (KSAZ) -- The saguaro cactus is one of the most iconic symbols of the desert southwest, and they are protected by law. Some vandals, however, are showing little regard for the law, as they spray-painted some of the cacti in Cave Creek.

Maricopa county park ranger kevin smith and a few volunteers busy this morning trying to get spray paint off of several cacti in cave creek along the black mountain trail.

"Somebody had come along, and actually numbered seven saguaro cactus sequentially up the trail, from one through seven, almost all the way up to the summit of Black Mountain, which is about a mile one way from here," said Smith.

On the very top of the summit, the vandal spray painted a number "8" on a boulder. Smith is hoping to get everything cleaned up by using a solution, safe for live saguaros.

"The brand name is called 'Elephant Snot', and apparently, it's safe to use on saguaros," said Smith. "We mixed it up, and we first applied it by spraying the solution on the spray paint and letting it sit for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then very gently scrubbing with bristle brushes, and reapplying chemical and scraping and brushing again, until finally, we got most of it off."

Those living along the trail say they aren't surprised by this, and it seems incidents like this are happening more often in the area.

"Part of the problem is that it's a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week usage of it," said Dawn Ford. "So we have no way to monitor it. Monitor who's coming and going. They're up there until midnight sometimes. They take vehicles up there, up until when this house was being built above us. It is unfortunate because there is no monitoring of the trail."