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Camel

I Found Camel Fossils On State Land What Should I Do?

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Hello

please don't yell at me too much (you'll find out why soon enough)

I hope you guys can help me I am a fossil newbie and a college student

TL;DR at the bottom

last year my favorite biology proffesor told me about a fossil bed I might have fun dinking around in becuase he found a few bone chips in it and thought it was pretty cool

so I went out and had a great old time finding a few bone chips and cool rocks

then I stubmled apon like 1/4 of a jaw bone with the teeth still in it and boy is it cool

not knowing better I brought it back home to show my proffesor

he thought it was cool as a cucmber and said if I wanted to to contact someone and tell them about the fossil bed

I half heartedly contacted the state the USGS and the BLM

nothing happened no emails back nothing

fastforward to last semster when I took a geology class

trying to impress my prof I brought in the jaw fossil

i brought a few other rocks for him to ID then i handed the fossil to him boring side up and had him guess what it was

i wish i had a photo of his face when he relized what it was i nearly pasted out from laughing at it

then i sobered up really quick when he told me it was completly illegal for me to be touching it let alone removing it from a bed site and to contact the blm right away

i did whole heartedly this time and again no emails back to me so i forgot about it yet again

this semester i was talking to a 3rd proffesor about fossils and he gave me the number of the local BLM fossil guy and told me to just go to the office one day and bug him

LIKE THE GOOD PERSON I AM i went to the BLM office the next day with fossil inhand preparing for my life in prison

i asked the nice front desk lady if the fossil guy was in

the nice lady told me he wasn't

suddenly glimpsing a way out of being arested (i over react i know) i gave the fossil and my cell phone number to the nice lady

a few days later finally I get contacted by the BLM guy he wants me to come in and talk to him about where i found the fossil

so again i prepared for the cops to be at the blm office to take me away to the gray bar hotel

i went in told the guy exactly where i found the fossil and he told me it was in the middle of state land and there was nothing he could do about it

he handed me back the jaw fossil and let me leave with them (i still don't even really get why how this was able to do so [you read that correctly])

i talked to my geology proffessor again about the whole ordeal and he told me to contact the state

so again I contacted the state

no emails back (been only about 3 weeks)

now becuase apparently no one told me //multiable// times about how illegal this was this spring break I went back out to the fossil bed and found roughly half a ziplock bag full of marrow joints slivers and a tooth

(i plan on giving everything i have found to the proper people I just don't want it to wash away or be found by a random huter/hiker)

TL;DR I found camel fossils on state land

blm is no help

i am a college student with no experiance in fossilogoy

what do I do now?

does anyone know who I should contact?

I am in SE AZ

I can add any info/pic that you guys need/request

thank you very much for your help!

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No yelling involved here. From the little bit that I can find on-line after a quick search, it seems that much of the state land in Arizona is administered by the Arizona State Land Department so that might be a good place to start. I gave their web site a quick look but was unable to find anything specifically about collecting fossils (vertebrate or invertebrate) on state lands other than that a Recreational Permit does NOT include the ability to collect fossils. You might try to to contact somebody with that department to see what the legalities are in Arizona.

-Joe

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At this point you haven't been arrested and you aren't seeing black helicopters following you so I would just relax and enjoy your fossil. In my opinion you have done due diligence to try and turn in the fossil but no one seems to know who actually owns what. In the future be more aware of where you are and the respective laws and don't take anything with you that might be an issue. Keep the fossil, don't sell it.

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I agree with Shamalama, I think youve gone out of your way to make things right without any luck, I would take it that they are saying (without coming out and saying it) that this one time they will look the other way, I would NOT suggest ever going back with the intention of taking more fossils, unless you can get some kind of permit, but at this point Id just say enjoy your finds and dont tell anyone else where you found the fossils, if someone else goes in and gets caught it could come back to you

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As long as you can document your attempts to inform BLM authorities, I would think you would have a strong defense should anyone try to make trouble for you. There is a long history of museum collecting of Pleistocene fossils, including many spectacularly complete camels, around St. David and at various other sites to the east of that, and to the west of Tucson at Brawley Wash and other sites. A partial camel jaw is not a scientifically important discovery for that area, which I guess may account for the ho-hum response.

Don

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No good deed goes unpunished. I'm going to be cynical here and suggest that if the wrong bureaucrat gets wind of this you could still be in for trouble. Personally I would put the fossils in the back drawer of the collection and chalk them up to a learning experience and stop trying to inform the authorities. If you insist on doing so then skip the part about having actually collected a few bits. And don't tell them you went back for more.

Shamalama and Vordigern have given good advice. If you are serious about this stuff, get the maps and info you need to make sure you know where you are. And get a good camera so you can collect images and then show them to the authorities.

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DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Save all copies of your e-mails, and write a short description of what you have done, and who you contacted and when. Store that with the fossil. Don't go back to the spot to collect, although for added scientific value, you might get some pictures of the area. You have done due dilligence, and tried to do the correct thing.

Brent Ashcraft

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I agree with everyone above. It sounds like you've tried your best to do the right thing, as long as you document your efforts you'll be fine. I think you should enjoy your fossil, and not collect anything else from state land unless you have a permit. If you are still worried about it and don't want to keep it consider donating it to a museum.

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I would stop worrying. Take all the advice on keeping good records, but let it go. You've gone above and beyond what 99.9% of us would have done.

I wouldn't hunt on state land, if you can help it, tho.

But there isn't a person on this site that hasnt hunted a road cut or two on public property...

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But there isn't a person on this site that hasnt hunted a road cut or two on public property...

Hey! Who told you!

Brent Ashcraft

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ok I guess I'll print off all of the emails and stick them in a drawer

kind of a sad way to end this adventure but ill take your guy's advice

thank you for your help and quick replies I really appreciate it

I guess now ill have to go look for legal things to dig!!

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You've gone above and beyond what 99.9% of us would have done.

We are the 99%!

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I can't find the permit?

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You sir, have gone "above and beyond" what any reasonable person would do. If indictments are issued, I will stand as a character witness... that is what the chair of my committee said to me...

j/k

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Scroll down to "other useful links" and there are contacts for the AZ. Geo. Survey and the State Museum:

http://www.land.state.az.us/programs/natural/energyMinerals.htm

I would try and inquire there about state laws for collecting fossils. I could not find any reference to fossils on the AZ. State Land Dept. site, though it does appear you need a permit to even be out there.

That is here:

http://www.land.state.az.us/programs/natural/RecreationPermit.pdf

I wouldn't even mention the camel jaw, just ask about the law because you are interested in collecting fossils in general.

If it wasn't collected on BLM or Parkland, you're probably alright.

Good luck & let us know how it turns out!

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I can't find the permit?

When I searched the state land trust website for fossil collecting it said it was not permitted with the land use permit. :( but I did find this link talking about the rockhounding permit :D

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Almost all State and Federal parks do not permit any kind of collecting without a permit.

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fossils are lithified bones (aka rocks) so that permit will work? :D

ill contact them and tell you guys what happens (most likely they won't even mail me back :()

also i will note that i was there legally!

i have a hunting permit and a .22 for rabbits which is enough to get you on state lands

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update

the state still hasn't contacted me

I've been asking around town to see if anyone knows of a state fossil guy contact

emailed a few people and no response

:(

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just in case anyone wants these fossils (probely by the time i am a fossil myself)

should i not handle them with my bare hands?

how should i keep them? they have been laying on my desk in a plastic bag it the sun which my not be the best place for them but i dont know

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