-Fossils are being destroyed by people who are loving them to death, people who are making a profit."
* Bruce Louthan
is the district archaeologist for the Moab BLM. He relies on public
education to stop fossil
are an independent lot. The largest number of paleontological finds
after 1900 were made by amateurs - people who say, "I found nirvana
out here. I got the world's biggest or funkiest fossil." Amateurs
are attracted to things for things. Not
"Preserving antiquities and fossils can
appear to be an egghead activity to some people. They don't get a
gut feeling about it, about why the past is of some consequence.
This education job has to go on for a long time.
"We can't quite get (public sentiment against
fossil theft) to happen. Like poaching: People may think it isn't
right, but they don't want Joe to get hung for it.
"Until people really say this is a crime, things
won't change. We have not been able to nail anybody. The rock shops
claim that they just buy from other people.
"Paleontologists don't have enough educated
supporters. That will change. Adventure tourism and eco-tourism
(companies) are starting to do fossil tours with people from all
over country, not locals. These people pay fees, are more educated,
more sophisticated. They are more supportive of protective
measures. They realize fossils are being destroyed by people who
are loving them to death, people who are making a profit.
"Locally, there is a move to develop a national
or state park to protect the Utahraptor site. It has been exploited
by illegal digging. This interest locally will lead to positive
progress. Eventually the public will say, "We need to figure out
what is worth preserving." "