Big Bend National Park asks for help identifying vandals of ancient rock art

Vandals irreparably destroyed ancient rock art late last month, scrawling their names and a date across petroglyphs in Big Bend National Park. The park is seeking any information that leads to identifying the culprits. Photo courtesy of Big Bend National Park.

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK — On December 26, a panel of ancient petroglyphs in the Indian Head area of Big Bend National Park was irreparably damaged when vandals chose to boldly scratch their names and the date across the prehistoric art. Park managers have seen an increase in vandalism and graffiti in the area, and ask anyone with information about these incidents, or the persons involved, to contact the law enforcement staff of Big Bend National Park.

National Parks are treasured lands and protect the country’s national heritage. Graffiti is vandalism, is costly and extremely difficult if not impossible to remove. It is also illegal. Damaging park resources is a violation of 36 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). Rock art and ancient cultural sites are also protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA).

“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 Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “With each instance of vandalism, part of our nation’s heritage is lost forever.”

Since 2015, park archeologists have documented over 50 instances of vandalism to these priceless sites. If you discover vandalized rock art, please don’t attempt to clean it yourself. Trained staff will attempt to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible, using highly specialized techniques. Staff have already treated the most recent vandalism at Indian Head, but much of the damage is, unfortunately, permanent.

Anyone with information about these incidents, or the persons involved, should contact the Big Bend National Park Communication Center at 432-477-1187.