Reward offered for info on dinosaur tracksite damage near Utah-Arizona state line

Feb 14, 2023, 4:31 PM | Updated: 4:33 pm

Dinosaur tracksite damage...

This image shows some of the vandalism recently discovered at the Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite near the Utah-Arizona border. Bureau of Land Management officials say someone carved two makeshift tracks into the sandstone by preserved dinosaur tracks that date back to about 180 million years ago. (Bureau of Land Management)

(Bureau of Land Management)

KANAB, Utah — Bureau of Land Management officials say they are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction of anyone responsible for vandalizing a dinosaur tracksite slightly north of the Utah-Arizona state line according to KSL.com.

Graffiti at the Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite located southwest of Kanab and near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was recently reported. Officials said someone carved makeshift tracks into the Navajo sandstone next to the remaining 180-million-year-old tracks, while also leaving “few other smaller pieces of graffiti” in the area.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the incident happened; however, it was discovered last year. Officials said Tuesday they are working with preservation experts as they seek to remove the damage.

Anyone who may have any information about the case is urged to contact bureau law enforcement either at 435-644-1215 or 435-690-9573.

“We take acts of vandalism seriously and it is important that those responsible are held accountable,” Harry Barber, the bureau’s Paria River District manager, said in a statement.

The track site is considered a “world-class paleontological resource” as it contains some of the “highest diversities of fossilized vertebrate tracks” in North America, according to the Bureau of Land Management. At least five dinosaur species — Batrachopus, Brasilichnium, Grallator, Kayentapus and Otozoum — left hundreds of tracks in the area, which date back to the Early Jurassic period about 180 million years ago.

That’s on top of tracks from other species preserved in the Navajo sandstone wash. While the space is open to the public, federal land managers note that the tracks are “incredibly fragile.” They urge that visitors do not try to mold or cast any of the tracks or remove any graffiti or vandalism, to help prevent additional damage to the tracks.

The case is the latest instance of archeological vandalism in recent years, which prompted Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, the Utah Division of State History and the Utah State Historic Preservation Office to launch a campaign against it last year.

“Archeological sites, these physical places where we can go to visit the past, are much more fragile than they look,” Cox said in a video. “And with more people visiting Utah’s great outdoors than ever before, even actions that feel like a light touch can damage or even destroy a site forever.”

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Reward offered for info on dinosaur tracksite damage near Utah-Arizona state line