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There's gotta be a way
We've hashed the issue of private collection of vertebrate fossils to
death. No there are no easy answers. There may be no one answer, but
possibly a group of them. In my advocation of a liscensing system there may
be problems it would create, but wouldn't it also solve a few? If the
proceedure to get and keep a permit to collect on Public land was tied to
strict reporting and qualifting standards wouldn't it be a good thing? (
Including background checks, references, and other means of assurance).
Those hordes of Alan Grant wannabe's would have to deal with a vastly more
unified front of defense of the resource than now exists. In the very least
there would be more opportunity to protect the fossils that now exists, and
I think we all agree that's the vital point. If a private collector was
required to professionally keep good tight notes, and extract every
recoverable fossil, subject to periodic and random inspection of all
quarries, wouldn't that stop the high-grading of skulls and teeth and other
"cool" fossils? I can't see how a required reporting proceedure, with the
proper follow-up, could easily circumvent a safety net to save truely
scientifically important speimens. Unless a collector was willing to risk
severe punishment, above and beyond loss of liscense, I believe the
situation would be improved. If the museums were involved in all aspects of
the proceedings wouldn't that work?
The point the established institutional system must face is the fact that
their monopolistic control of this valued resource is no longer completely
defenseable. To knowingly allow fossils to rot away to nothing does neither
the science nor the human race any good. Unless these institutions can
formulate a plan to recover, discribe, and display a lot more fossils the
general public will begin to see through the facade. If the collective
scientific front will not support the enacting of a non-institutional
collection effort then they must take responsibilty for the protection of
the resource themselves. To claim sole right to possession, as they do now,
without the associated responsibility to protect that resource is flawed.
Rather than bitch about what's wrong with my thinking come up with a
working solution. I've yet to hear a plan, other than let it be. I don't
like the idea that we're losing fossils, needlessly, by whatever forces.
Let's stop it, 'cause only we can.
Roger A. Stephenson
Hell Creek Homey