Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242
February 4, 2005
Tumbler Ridge made the front page of the 26 January Vancouver
Sun in an article entitled: “B.C.’s fossils need
legal protection: scientists.” Tumbler Ridge palaeontologists
Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley (Peace Region Palaeontology Research
Centre) were quoted on the virtual absence of legislation in
the province (compared with Alberta) to protect this precious
resource, along with Jim Haggart, Chairman of the BC Palaeontology
Alliance, and Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South. The
implications are particularly important in the Peace Region
with its large vertebrate fossils, which can fetch a considerable
price on E-bay if they fall into the wrong hands.
There have already been many cases of unscrupulous misuse
of the region’s and the province’s fossil heritage.
Attempts have been made to smuggle valuable fish fossils from
Wapiti Lake out of Canada, fossils from the famous Burgess
Shale (a World Heritage Site) have even ended up in the hands
of the fossil trade, and one of Tumbler Ridge’s most
important dinosaur footprints was removed in 2004 so that
it could become an interesting dinner table (it was later
by the RCMP). To the south the location of a newly discovered
dinosaur trackway was kept secret for several years while
the discoverer tried to profit financially from it, and
rumours of tour operators in the region who encourage foreign
guests to look for, and leave with, important fossils that
never get described by a scientist or appreciated by local
residents and visitors.
It is against this background that the Tumbler Ridge Museum
Foundation recently developed and passed its Palaeontology
Code of Ethics, which sets a standard of responsible and
appropriate actions that it expects from its members, and
that it requests
of all residents in the Peace Region. It also addresses
the ethical issues for its members and board members that
from being a non-profit society with charitable status,
that deals with fossils.
Welcome news in this context is that the B.C. government
is now working on fossil protection, and it has already
indicated that fossils will no longer be seen as minerals
as a heritage resource. Mr. Lekstrom, in tune as always
with the needs of the region, is leading the political
to achieve this, and he plans to introduce a private member’s
bill on the issue if necessary.
TUMBLER RIDGE MUSEUM FOUNDATION
PALAEONTOLOGY CODE OF ETHICS (ABRIDGED)
Introduction and premises:
The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) was formed in
2001. Its goals include highlighting the unique palaeontological
features of the area, maintaining a suitable repository,
an organization through which those interested in
palaeontology may meet and exchange information, stimulating
and developing the highest possible standards of
The Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (P.R.P.R.C.)
was formed by the T.R.M.F. to promote the protection, discovery,
collection, scientific study and display of regional and
local palaeontological resources, and to develop the educational
opportunities and partnerships that result.
palaeontologists and scientific advisors have made it into
a local and regional centre
following the highest possible scientific and ethical standards.
Palaeontological study is in its infancy in the Tumbler
Ridge area, with the probability of further significant
discoveries. Significant damage can be done to sites and
fossils by unsupervised collecting, or by making replicas
including ichnofossils (trace fossils such as dinosaur
footprints) regardless of the intentions behind these activities.
is often very difficult to immediately recognize the importance
of a fossil specimen.
The fossil record of the region is a priceless resource
which should be properly collected, accessioned, catalogued,
and, where suitable, exhibited, for the benefit of all.
This should be achieved through public institutions rather
through private collections.
The T.R.M.F. is a registered non-profit society and charitable
organization, actively and continuously engaged in fundraising
so as to maintain its programs. Its Souvenir Committee
inventively develops and promotes sales items to help with
of Ethics for T.R.M.F. Members:
The T.R.M.F. requires “right of first refusal” for
local (Tumbler Ridge area) and regional (Peace Region)
fossil specimens from its members. Information on new fossil
is thus brought to the attention of the T.R.M.F. palaeontologists,
who will judge if the specimen is important enough to be
accessioned into the P.R.P.R.C. collections.
A new fossil or fossil site discovery is to be documented
via photographs and precise map location, and brought to
of the T.R.M.F. palaeontologists, without being removed
or disturbed in any way until the site is assessed by legitimate
palaeontologists recognized by the T.R.M.F. The location
the find should be kept confidential.
Should the T.R.M.F. not wish to accession the specimen(s)
for its collections, and the member wishes to maintain
collection, the member must determine the status of the
land, apply for appropriate permission as needed, and understand
and comply with existing legislation and regulations pertaining
to collection of fossils in British Columbia. The site
be disturbed as little as possible, and over-collection
at any one site should be avoided. If requested by T.R.M.F.,
the member is to document the relevant geological and stratigraphical
data, and catalogue the specimen appropriately. T.R.M.F.
wishing to maintain private palaeontological collections
are encouraged to contribute a copy to the T.R.M.F. of
list of specimens in their collections. Permission is to
be obtained from the T.R.M.F. palaeontologists regarding
of casts or replicas of fossils, including ichnofossils.
Members with a serious interest in palaeontology may request
in a T.R.M.F. field expedition, or may request approval
to collect specimens for the P.R.P.R.C.’s collections,
but must agree to follow collection and documentation procedures
and conditions which will be dealt with on a case by case
No T.R.M.F. Board Member or Officer shall be remunerated
for his/her palaeontologial services, or profit from
entrepreneurial activities with a Tumbler Ridge palaeontological
members may engage in such entrepreneurial activities,
but will respect copyright of items and designs developed
T.R.M.F. Souvenir Committee, and not attempt to duplicate
these items for profit.
Members who fail to adhere to
these ethics may have their membership in the T.R.M.F. revoked.
Requests for non-members:
The T.R.M.F. requests that non-members comply with the
same Code of Ethics in the Peace Region that pertains
The T.R.M.F. requests that regional museums and other
organizations both public and private support the
work of the P.R.P.R.C.
In turn the important fossil specimens of the region,
once accessioned through the P.R.P.R.C., will be
used to enhance
local palaeontology exhibits throughout the region.