Ancient Rock Art at Big Bend Permanently Damaged by Vandals

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Vandalism on rock art panel in Big Bend National Park. | Image from National Park Services

Ancient rock art was vandalized at Big Bend National Park, causing permanent damage, according to the National Park Services (NPS).

The vandals etched names and a date into the face of the prehistoric rocks, which are located at the park’s “Indian Head” area. A picture shared by the NPS appears to show “Issac,” “Ariel,” “Norma,” “Adrian,” and “12-26-21” scratched into the surface of the rocks.

In a news release distributed on January 4, the NPS said that trained staff repaired some of the damage, but most of it was irreparable.

“National Parks are treasured lands and protect our national heritage. Graffiti is vandalism, is costly, and extremely difficult if not impossible to remove. It is also illegal,” the news release said.

Damaging National Park property is a federal offense punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or up to six months in prison. Rock art and other ancient cultural sites are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

Park officials said it is part of a larger trend. Since 2015, more than 50 instances of vandalism and graffiti have been recorded at the park.

“Big Bend National Park belongs to all of us. Damaging natural features and rock art destroys the very beauty and history that the American people want to protect in our parks,” said Bob Krumenaker, Superintendent of Big Bend National Park. “With each instance of vandalism, part of our Nation’s heritage is lost forever.”

The carved rocks, known as “petroglyphs,” are among the world’s oldest artworks; petroglyphs found in the southwestern United States range in age from 300 to 2,500 years old.

Officials are asking the public for tips regarding the incident. Anyone with information about those involved is encouraged to contact law enforcement. Citizens can also submit tips by calling the Big Bend National Park Communication Center at 432-477-1187.

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