People, this is why we can’t have nice things. Tourists in Utah have been removing dinosaur footprints embedded in sandstone and tossing them into the lake at Red Fleet State Park in Vernal. The foot-long prehistoric dino tracks primarily come from the reptile known as the velociraptor in Jurassic Park (it’s actually a Deinonychus), and park officials are frantically trying to stop visitors from destroying the priceless artifacts.
Park officials don’t know why people have started tossing the prints into the lake. Certainly, some people don’t realize what they are doing, despite signs around the site warning visitors not to disturb the sandstone. “It’s become quite a big problem,” Utah Division of State Parks spokesman Devan Chavez told the Salt Lake Tribune. “They’re just looking to throw rocks off the side. What they don’t realize is these rocks they’re picking up, they’re covered in dinosaur tracks.”
For now, the park is putting up more signs to stop the vandalism, but they are also considering sending a diving team into the water to recover the prints. Unfortunately, many of them shatter when they hit the water, and many others have probably dissolved. “Some of them are likely lost forever,” Chavez said.
Tourists have vandalized national and state park sites multiple times in the past few years, including an instance in 2001 where three Boy Scouts tore up a dinosaur print trail at the same park. In 2013, Boy Scout leaders tipped over “goblin” formations in Goblin Valley State Park, and even celebrities have gotten in on the vandalism. Unfortunately, due to the Trump administration’s budget cuts, the parks system is struggling to address the ongoing problem across the country.
Image via Jim McKenzie