An ancient rock art panel in Big Bend National Park suffered what park officials call irreparable damage when vandals carved their name on it.
A park statement said the damage occurred on Dec. 26 in a panel of ancient petroglyphs in the Indian Head area of the park.
“The vandals have chosen to boldly scratch their names and the date through prehistoric art,” the statement said. “Park managers have seen an increase in vandalism and graffiti in the area and are asking anyone with information about these incidents, or those involved, to contact law enforcement in Big Bend National Park. “
Big Bend officials couldn’t immediately say Tuesday how old the petroglyphs were, what they represented or what culture left them.
Graffiti is vandalism, it is expensive and extremely difficult, if not impossible to remove. It is also illegal, according to the park statement. Damaging park resources is a violation of 36 CFR. Rock art and ancient cultural sites are also protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
“Damaging the natural features and rock art is destroying the very beauty and history the American people want to protect in our parks,” Big Bend Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said. “With each case of vandalism, part of our nation’s heritage is lost forever.”
Since 2015, park archaeologists have documented more than 50 cases of vandalism at these priceless sites. If you find vandalized rock art, don’t try to clean it up yourself, but contact park staff. Trained personnel will attempt to mitigate damage as quickly as possible, using highly specialized techniques. Staff have already dealt with the most recent vandalism at Indian Head, but most of the damage is sadly permanent, park staff said.
Anyone with information about these incidents, or those involved, should contact the Big Bend National Park Communications Center at 432-477-1187.