Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Carolyn Golightly, President email@example.com
April 21, 2004
Some time during April of this year, a person or persons, descended
upon the Wolverine River Dinosaur Footprint Trail near Tumbler
Ridge to commit an act of theft and vandalism. This scenic
trail had been constructed through the forest with great care
in 2003 by volunteers of the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain
Society, Tumbler Ridge’s outdoors group.
The objective was simple: to allow residents and visitors the
opportunity to enjoy a few of the community’s famous dinosaur
footprints and trackways in their natural setting. It soon became
known as the lantern tour site, as after-dark visitors would
feel the thrill of the bedrock coming alive with footprints and
trackways of both meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs in the
low-angled lantern light.
There is now one less footprint to be seen. A sledgehammer,
a crowbar, a chisel, and a bit of muscle likely achieved the
in a short time, and a ragged hole is all that remains of a
well preserved theropod footprint. Naturally, the Tumbler Ridge
Foundation (TRMF) could have done the same at the time of the
original discovery, and secured the specimen for perpetuity
in its collections. But in this case the TRMF preferred to
document the site, make cast replicas of the more important
prints, and leave the originals in their pristine state for
The discovery of the theft was made while resident palaeontologists
Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, and TRMF Vice President Charles
Helm, were conducting a group of thirty dignitaries from
across Canada to the site by lantern light.
Ironically, the vandal could have purchased an exact replica
of the print that was stolen for just $25 in Tumbler Ridge,
but the temptation of owning or selling the original must
too great. Through excavating a provincially designated palaentological
site, a crime has been committed, which the RCMP is investigating.
Any information can be called to the RCMP at (250) 242-5252,
or Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477.
In the long term, the effects of this act may well be beneficial.
Already, even those who have up until now have shown little
interest in palaeontology are offended, and are asking
how to visit this
and Tumbler Ridge’s other publicly accessible footprint
site. The TRMF will soon erect a display at the scene,
including a replica of the stolen footprint, which will
on the importance of such sites and the ever-present threats
to their future. And sometimes it takes such an act, and
the resulting loss, to remind politicians of the importance
laws and consequences. Finally, this should quell any criticism
that has been leveled at TRMF for not disclosing publicly
its many other dinosaur footprint and other fossil sites.
Despite these potential positive effects, the loss of this
footprint is a loss for the community, and for the generations
that would have been able to see it in its original form.
This event is therefore more likely in the short term
difficult questions about the human mind, and the incentives
it to act in such a malicious manner.