US & Canada

Utah tourists urged to stop throwing dinosaur tracks in lake

A human hand for comparison in front of a dinosaur footprint Image copyright Utah State Parks
Image caption Some of the tracks will not be recoverable depending on how they hit the water

Visitors to a US state park in Utah have been destroying 200 million-year-old dinosaur tracks by throwing them into the water, park officials say.

While this has been an ongoing problem for many years, officials say the damaging behaviour has increased dramatically in the last six months.

The dinosaur tracks are one of the biggest draws to Red Fleet State Park and many have been irrevocably damaged.

Visitors have been throwing the tracks around as if they were merely rocks.

Devan Chavez, a spokesman for the Utah Division of State Parks, told the Washington Post that at least 10 of the larger footprints left by dinosaurs, ranging from 3 to 17 inches (8 to 43cm), have disappeared in the last six months.

"There are few other places where visitors can hike, swim, boat, and relax right next to dinosaur tracks," park manager Josh Hansen says.

Some of the larger tracks were left by a dinosaur called a Dilophosaurus, which was "about the size of a small horse", according to Mr Hansen.

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Recently, a juvenile was caught with two tracks in his hands as he was about to throw them in the water, Mr Hansen says.

The vandalism has not been intentional, and a majority of it has been done by kids who "just want to make a big splash in the water," he added.

Mr Hansen told the BBC the park will be able to recover some of the tracks, but it all depends on how they hit the water and if they have shattered in the process.

Image copyright Utah State Parks
Image caption One of the dinosaur tracks seen at Red Fleet State Park in Utah

In a statement on the Red Fleet State Park Facebook page, park officials advised visitors not to disturb any rocks on the dinosaur track.

They mentioned while it is not illegal to throw rocks into the water, it is illegal to displace those containing tracks.

Park officials are looking at options to solve the problem and for now, have put additional signs in place to discourage any rock throwing.

Citations will also be used as a preventative measure.

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Media captionSkye boasts world-class dinosaur prints

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