National Parks / Desert Travel / Cacti / RFID / → All Tags
Arizona Keeping Its Saguaros Seguro
We've heard of endangered Joshua trees, but now apparently Arizona's tradmark saguaros are at risk. The cacti, which can grow to 50 feet, are rare enough that poachers can fetch four figures for them--so the National Park Service plans to embed trackable microchips in the prickly plants:
Under the program, a microchip like those implanted to identify dogs and other pets--smaller than a dime--would be inserted an inch deep into the plant with a large syringe.
The microchips don't emit a signal. Instead, each is uniquely encoded, and waving a special wand within about a foot powers the chip to send back its code.
Park officials are now studying the potential environmental impact of tagging at least some of the millions of saguaros in Arizona. If the plan goes forward, it won't be the first of its kind: Lake Mead National Recreation Area started tracking its cacti in 1999.