• Outdoors Outdoors

Photo of defaced 5,000-year-old petroglyph in national park sparks outrage: 'How can we find who did this?'

"Others have gotten jail time for similar stunts in NPS lands."

"Others have gotten jail time for similar stunts in NPS lands."

Photo Credit: iStock

An act of vandalism on a petroglyph at Big Bend National Park in Texas went viral on Reddit after one irritated park-goer posted a picture of the damage.

The Redditor's photo, which drew over 2,000 upvotes and 100 comments, showed that two different couples had scrawled their names on the rock, defacing a stone that had an ancient drawing the original poster suggested could have been 5,000 years old.

"Others have gotten jail time for similar stunts in NPS lands."
Photo Credit: Reddit

The National Park Service website's post about the defacement describes the artwork at Big Bend as being prehistoric, so it could have been significantly older. 

The NPS said the rocks had been damaged "irreparably" and called for any witnesses to share information. 

"Big Bend National Park belongs to all of us," said Big Bend National Park superintendent Bob Krumenaker. "Damaging natural features and rock art destroys the very beauty and history that the American people want to protect in our parks. With each instance of vandalism, part of our Nation's heritage is lost forever."

The petroglyphs are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and graffiti at the park is illegal. Up to the beginning of 2022, the NPS had recorded over 50 instances of vandalism at Big Bend since 2015.

Unfortunately, many national park visitors have been recorded showing a flagrant disregard for rules and guidance, putting the natural features, historic relics, and local wildlife at risk. 

At Yellowstone, for example, it's not uncommon to see tourists approaching bison despite park rules calling on visitors to remain at least 25 yards from the animals at all times. Visitors have also been caught getting far too close to hot springs and geysers.

At Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, caves were forced to be temporarily closed after another act of vandalism

It wouldn't be surprising if Big Bend took similar action after the damage caused at the park. The level of selfishness displayed by these particular tourists could have ruined the park-going experience for others, depriving tourists of a chance to reconnect with nature and learn about the nation's heritage.

"Others have gotten jail time for similar stunts in NPS lands," one Redditor observed. "Here's to them being identified."

"I love and hate the craze of people getting into the outdoors for this reason," another added. "I enjoy all the cool new people who are getting into my hobbies, at the same time there are asshats like this who ruin it for the rest of us."

"How can we find who did this?" asked one concerned commenter. 

The fact the graffiti "artists" left their names will surely help in the search, but unless Big Bend has adequate surveillance, it might be tricky to track these people down. Anyone with information can call the Big Bend National Park Communication Center at 432-477-1187.

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