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Friday, February 21, 2014

Theft Of Ancient Dinosaur Track Prompts Appeal For Help

You've probably heard by now, an ancient footprint from a dinosaur trackway near Moab has been stolen - yanked from the ground and hauled away. The tragic act of vandalism is prompting news articles in media around the world. DeseretNews.com has the complete story. Here's a couple quotes:

“A lot of the guides will pull off and show people the dinosaur tracks that are there on the cliff side so all of the public can enjoy them and unfortunately one of these guides who is very familiar with the tracks recognized that one of the blocks had been stolen and reported it to us," BLM Canyon Country district paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster said.

The tracks are from the Navajo sandstone, which is Jurassic in age.

“You can’t assign a monetary value to it, they are priceless,” Hunt-Foster said. “They are one-of-a-kind, individual tracks a dinosaur made 190 million years ago, and they cannot be replaced.”

Utah has several such trackways and other dinosaur sites. We reported on four near Moab just a few days ago.

Public help is needed, perhaps to recover this track and also to protect others. What can you do? Here are ideas:

If you hear of someone trying to peddle a dinosaur track turn him in. Seriously.
If neighbor's yard sports a new slab of Navajo sandstone with funny markings, contact authorities.
If you were in the area and noticed anything suspicious, contact authorities.
Mostly, pay attention when you are out and about and report illegal activities.

BLM manages this particular trackway. That agency released this information. Here are excerpts.

Members of the public interested in protecting these important resources should consider becoming a paleontology site steward. The Site Steward Program uses volunteers to monitor significant sites for vandalism, looting, and natural impacts such as erosion, while also increasing public awareness about the preservation of our invaluable fossil resources. To learn more about becoming a paleontology site steward, please contact Rebecca Hunt-Foster at (435) 259-2179.
For more information on this case, please contact BLM Law Enforcement at (801) 539-4082. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message with the above individual. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.

Law enforcement can't do it alone. There are so many significant but fragile sites, it is not possible to post guards at each one. And having tight security would diminish the experience for many of us. We go into the backcountry to get away stuff like that.

If we work together, pay attention and report problems, we can make a difference.

- Dave Webb

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