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Park Official: Visitors Are Destroying Ancient Dinosaur Fossils

VERNAL, UT (CBS Local) - Park officials in Utah are trying to stop a trend that is literally destroying millions of years of history. Tourists have reportedly been picking up the fossilized footprints of dinosaurs and throwing them into a park lake.

"It's become quite a big problem," Utah Division of State Parks spokesman Devan Chavez told The Salt Lake Tribune. "They're just looking to throw rocks off the side. What they don't realize is these rocks they're picking up, they're covered in dinosaur tracks."

According to officials at Red Fleet State Park, some tracks which date back over 200 million years, have been destroyed by tourists scooping up the sandstone fossils and throwing them into the park reservoir - an act that either shatters or dissolves the prehistoric treasures.

"I saved that one," park manager Josh Hansen told reporters as he displayed a rare dinosaur print rescued from a tourist. "He had already thrown multiple [tracks in the water]."

Although the footprints aren't technically fossils, Utah law treats them as such and anyone caught damaging the ancient relics can be charged with a felony. Hansen said he doesn't want it to come to that and the park has increased the number of signs banning the practice by visitors. "It is illegal to displace rocks that contain the tracks," Hansen wrote in a park blog post. "Disturbing them like this is an act of vandalism."

Park officials couldn't figure out a reason why their visitors wanted to throw any type of stones into the Red Fleet Reservoir and just hope it stops before anymore history is lost.

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