DEATH VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Investigators with the National Park Service need the public’s help to identify at least two men seen in the area where fossil footprints were stolen in Death Valley National Park.
The fossil footprints, tracks formed about 3 to 5 million years ago in a muddy lake shore area by mammals and birds, were removed recently from the park, said Linda Slater, National Parks Service spokeswoman Linda Slater said. Scientists who visit the area regularly discovered the fossils were missing during a recent visit and reported it to park rangers.
“It’s illegal to collect fossils, rocks, or anything else in national parks,” Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a statement. “The purpose of national parks is to conserve the landscape and everything it contains for the next generation. I ask that visitors come and enjoy all there is to see, and leave it unimpaired for others to enjoy.”
Investigators released images of backpackers who were photographed in the area where the fossils were removed from the park. They were not called suspects in the theft, but investigators say they may have witnessed the crime or have information about those responsible.
Anyone with information about the men’s identities can contact the park’s investigative services branch at (888) 653-0009.
A reward of up to $1,000 was offered for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible for the thefts.