MOAB, Utah — The Bureau of Land Management is offering a reward after vulgar graffiti was found covering ancient petroglyphs on one of the most popular rock art panels in Moab.
On Monday, Dustin Ferre, a guide with the Moab Tour Company, noticed someone had marked up the designs on "The Birthing Scene." Along with graphic images, the person also wrote "White Power," but had to cross out the first attempt after misspelling the word "white."
"The Birthing Scene" is a panel on a slab covered on four sides with Native American art featuring figures from the Anasazi period nearly 2000 years ago.
"It's not the first time I’ve seen it, so it definitely angered me. It's super frustrating," said Ferre. "Hopefully we don’t have to lock everything up and put it in a museum in order to see it. I hope we can still see it out in the real world."
This is the second such incident in the area in as many weeks, and local officials are furious over the increasing amount of vandalism near Moab and across Utah's treasured lands.
"That was kind of the icing on the cake because the rock itself has very special meaning to myself, and many people in this community. So their defacing of it has struck a chord," Grand County Commissioner Mary McGann said.
The growing number of visitors to the area is believed to be one cause of the vandalism, leading McGann and others to wonder whether tourism is hurting or helping the area.
"How important is the money when they're destroying the goose that laid the golden egg?" McGann said.
Along with vandalizing centuries-old petroglyphs, visitors have been seen driving off-road, destroying the things that can turn the area into a dust bowl.
McGann is asking the public to start taking photos of anyone vandalizing petroglyphs, or any rock structure and provide them to the police.
The BLM is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the vandalism. If you have any information concerning this vandalism, please contact BLM Law Enforcement at 435-259-2131 or 800-722-3998. You can remain anonymous.