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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Charges Filed Again Man Accused Of Stealing Ancient Dinosaur Track

Charges have now been filed against a man who is accused of stealing a sandstone slab containing a footprint fossil from a dinosaur site near Moab.

The man allegedly pried the rock from the ground and hauled it away. He apparently brought tools and equipment with him and a premeditated act.

When the theft attracted international attention, he apparently started to feel the heat and so he dumped the rock into the Colorado River.

Now, news media around the world will publish details about the charges. KSL.com has the story here. Below are excerpts.

Jared Frederick Ehlers, 35, was indicted on one count each of removal of paleontological resources, theft of government property, depredation of government property and destruction of evidence.

Authorities believe Ehlers pried a fossilized Allosaurus footprint out of the ground near the Hell's Revenge off-road trail on Feb. 17. The track was later dumped off Dewey Bridge into the Colorado River, about 30 miles east of Moab.

Members of the Utah Department of Public Safety's dive team spent several hours Saturday searching the river for the fossil but came up empty.

Not long ago, two men were charged with intentionally destroying rock formations in Goblin Valley State Park. That case also prompted news reports around the world. Here's one. Those men made a video and posted it on YouTube, for all the world to see.

So, are we winning or losing the fight to preserve priceless natural treasures? These two cases suggest people should think twice before engaging in such abhorrent acts. The world is watching, and the pressure can be intense when you become the subject of world-wide rage.

Safely, people who commit such acts seem to lack common sense, at least at the time of the infraction. They don't seem to be thinking clearly and they later say they regret their actions.

How can we protect these resources? We can't put a park ranger next to every ancient/historic/geologic/scenic attraction. And we wouldn't want to. Such a heavy-handed approach would detract from the outdoor experience.

Someone apparently turned in the Moab dino thief. I'd like to express my thanks to that person, whoever it was. We all need to have the courage to do that. If you see people engaged in illegal or unethical behavior, turn them in. If we work together to report problems - if people know we are working together to report problems - it will go a long way toward deterring perpetrators.

- Dave Webb

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