Ancient dinosaur track stolen from trail near Moab

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20 2014 3:35 p.m. MST

Hell's Revenge dinosaur tracks. This is a picture of the track that was stolen. The theft was discovered Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, by a guide from a tour group and reported to the BLM.

Bureau of Land Management

MOAB — The Bureau of Land Management is investigating the theft of a dinosaur track from a popular trail near Moab.

An off-road adventure group that often goes to the area noticed that one of the blocks containing the track was gone Wednesday. The tracks in the Hell’s Revenge area are estimated to be 190 million years old.

“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.”

The tracks are next to a popular off-roading area.

“People have often, unfortunately, been even parking on top of these things for years," Hunt-Foster said. "We’re in progress of trying to put up a barrier to keep people from parking on these tracks and to be more aware of them. The tracks are actually right on a cliff edge.”

The blocks are very heavy, but anyone with the proper vehicle would have had easy access to them.

“Once they are gone and stolen, they steal them scientifically from context, they steal them from the public enjoying them, and they steal them from all of us Americans who own them as federal property.”

The fossils are protected under federal law, so the person who stole the track could face civil and criminal penalties, which could include fines or a jail sentence.

Anyone who may have information about the theft is asked to call the BLM at 435-259-2100.

Email: mrichards@deseretnews.com

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