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Re: Detectives on the trail of fossil looters (retry)

Dan, isn't it reasonable to think that the answer is to do for-profit 
digs under the guidance, even control of properly trained personnel?
Seems remarkable to see stories here about universities cutting 
back on paleontology while people are willing to risk lengthy 
prison terms (for firearms violations if nothing else) in order 
to make material available.
The core issue is whether the ultimate disposition of the material 
is more significant than obtaining the material before it's destroyed 
by natural processes.
Perhaps, with university money drying up, at least to an extent, 
the issue can now be posed that starkly.
Maybe the best place to look for new discoveries isn't in a museum 
I know this has been debated before, but the question seems more 
urgent as fossil collections are being transferred from one institution 
to another because of, presumably, the low priority the material 
has at the sending facility.  This appears to indicate a reduction 
in resources for field work.  How far should such deterioration 
go before a change in policy becomes appropriate?
Are any of my assumptions wrong?

= = = Original message = = =

MKIRKALDY@aol.com reports:

<< The last paragraph puts the issue into perspective:

"Professional looters, however, are more brazen and have moved 
onto private 
land. It's so lucrative a business that many of the poachers 
are armed. And 
some, like the one Baldwin stumbled upon using a backhoe to rip 
up a 125-foot 
long petrified log, carry
automatic weapons. When confronted they often deny doing anything 
Baldwin said." >>

       This is nothing new. Back when I was doing fieldwork ten 
years ago, 
the Park and Forest Service law enforcement officers warned us 
to report but to 
stay away from those sticky-fingered entrepreneurs saving our 
fossils from 
erosion. They even told us what specific weaponage they were 
packing. That got 
our attention. Problem is that unless you are active in properly-done 
field work 
people don't tend to care and are more interested in seeing new 
whatever sexy new tidbit is being premiered. Students are ones 
really taking it 
in the shorts. DV

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