TAKE ONLY PHOTOGRAPHS, LEAVE ONLY (DINOSAUR) FOOTPRINTS

There has been an unfortunate spate of vandalism at dinosaur footprints sites in the Peace Region that have been opened to the public. The removal of a superb footprint from the Wolverine River site near Tumbler Ridge a few years ago, and its subsequent recovery by the RCMP, have become well known. A similar 2008 attempt at the second Tumbler Ridge footprint tour site at Cabin Pool fortunately failed, but not without causing some instability to the site, threatening the future of well preserved theropod footprints with rare dew-claw impressions.

At a well known site near Hudson?s Hope, offensive spray-paint slogans and names incised into the footprint rocks have caused defacement, and similarly inspired etchings have made an unwelcome appearance at a Tumbler Ridge site. To cap it all, signage at Cabin Pool has been vandalised with considerable premeditation and great effort, and deposited in Flatbed Creek. Fortunately it appears that the signs can be rehabilitated and reinstalled, but not without a fair amount of work, a task which is fairly low on the desirability list for the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation?s already busy volunteers.

The Board of Directors of the Museum Foundation, in consultation with its palaeontologists, have been forced to consider hidden solar powered surveillance cameras at Cabin Pool (not a trivial expense) and have reluctantly decided not to proceed with the opening of a third footprint site to the public in 2008, as had been planned.

It seems desperately sad that these footprint sites, which have evoked a sense of wonder in so many thousands of visitors, and which have provided diversification to Tumbler Ridge and the Peace Region through tourism, are threatened by the thoughtless and idiotic actions of just a few.