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danthefossilman

I hope this does not open a can of worms? But I think an open discussion regarding legal vs. illegal collecting practices is worth the time. 

 

I have observed, via a number of threads in posts, some collectors DO NOT appear respectful of current collecting rules and regulations (i.e. collecting vertebrate fossils on public land or unauthorized collecting on private land). 

 

I can already guess, many members are going to ask for specific examples. I really don't want to point fingers. I'm sure, members who have participated in this forum for a long time, recognize this is a on-going issue. People who post may NOT overtly say they are collecting illegally, but the content within the post depicts a picture of illegal collecting (i.e. found whale bones in a drainage ditch with map coordinates that indicate it is a public road easement).

 

I think what typically gets lost in discussion like this are 2 main points: (1) illegal collecting fuels the drive to change BLM collecting rules and regs (which we have seen), and (2) illegal collecting can "cheat" the legitimate scientific community from extracting valuable data (i.e. geologic in-situ information, micro fossils, specific coordinates, etc.).

 

I recently had a in-depth discussion with the head of a paleontology department who said, "most of the surface material (fossils) are of little interest to the museum (unless rare)" as the "scientific data" has been lost. I know what most of us are thinking, which is then why not let us collect surface vertebrate material that is exposed or removed from it's matrix? Well there are some legitimate reason why the current laws are restrictive: (1) some collectors have NO formal training and don't know how to properly identify, classify fossils (don't know the difference between a femur or tibia) (2) some collectors have NO training on how to property excavate fossils (pot hole diggers).

 

I think, in fairness to the online community, it would be beneficial to discuss the "challenges" to legal collecting and the importance of "legitimate" "legal" collecting to protect future collecting opportunities.

 

I personally, would like to see more posted comments instructing members to abide by current laws when it appears members "may be" violating them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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danthefossilman

I agree, it is an individual responsibility for collectors to comply with state or federal collecting laws.

 

However, when people post information at reflects vertebrate fossils collected in potentially illegal locations, and provide information to "the online community" where the fossil location is, I think we have a "ethical" responsibility to "remind" members what the collecting laws and consequences are. I think If we don't we shouldn't complain with the collecting laws become more restrictive. 

 

There is always a time and energy cost to leadership - 

 

 

 

 

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Wrangellian
On 1/3/2018 at 8:26 AM, danthefossilman said:

I hope this does not open a can of worms? ...

 

I recently had a in-depth discussion with the head of a paleontology department who said, "most of the surface material (fossils) are of little interest to the museum (unless rare)" as the "scientific data" has been lost. I know what most of us are thinking, which is then why not let us collect surface vertebrate material that is exposed or removed from it's matrix? Well there are some legitimate reason why the current laws are restrictive: (1) some collectors have NO formal training and don't know how to properly identify, classify fossils (don't know the difference between a femur or tibia) (2) some collectors have NO training on how to property excavate fossils (pot hole diggers).

...

Wait... You just finished saying that surface-collected fossils do not matter to science (unless rare). Then you said amateurs should not be allowed to collect (even the common stuff?) because they don't know how to collect scientifically. Why would it matter how common things are surface-collected if science doen't need those specimens? :headscratch:

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oldtimer

So as a new member to this forum I read over lots that has been posted as well as stuff for new members.

I saw it stated in many places what the law is overall in the United States.  Some have posted laws from their country.

I also asked about collecting in certain States and was told what their laws may be.  All of this I have encountered in a few months time.

I have as mentioned seen a few posts and threads that may be questionable.  The current rules and laws were passed along in a non threatening way.

It is up to the individual to listen and understand what is presented and to act accordingly.  I personally have read in many places what the law of our land is.

I follow it and wish that we could collect where we wanted especially surface and common verts. on public land.  But we can't. 

 

I learned that at 12 years of age when we found a "sea type dinosaur" fossil in the hills near LA, California.  Called the museum and they came out and looked at it.  Said it was common to the area. Said it was off limits to even take a piece. It was on private property and the owner said no.  From that time on I knew and followed that law.  It is a rule that I wish would change some to allow amateurs to collect verts. from State, public and Federal BLM land.

 

I think this forum has stated it in many places and times what the law is.  It's up to each individual to follow the rules. 

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danthefossilman

I also wish "surface" collecting of exposed "common" species of vertebrate fossils could be collected by non-professionals.

 

I have had several open honest conversations with paleontologists who cite the same objections to our ability to collect exposed surface vertebrates: lack of professional knowledge, training for fossil identification, excavation, preservation, data collection and documentation.

 

 

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danthefossilman

It's not me saying the collection of "surface" material should not be allowed. 

 

There is a disconnect between how "we" (amateur collectors) are perceived regarding our training and skill set vs. professionals and how state and federal laws have been structured.

 

Wish there was some type of amateur certification that would at least allow surface collecting?

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danthefossilman
3 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

And that cost is paid in full, while our time doing it, is not. ;) 

We do what we can.

But it is not our purview to investigate and question every thread about vertebrate fossil collection by our membership. 

That just is not feasible. 

 

Is there a way members in the broader online community can assist? (i.e. post links reflecting the importance of legal collecting compliance)

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danthefossilman
2 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

Wait... You just finished saying that surface-collected fossils do not matter to science (unless rare). Then you said amateurs should not be allowed to collect (even the common stuff?) because they don't know how to collect scientifically. Why would it matter how common things are surface-collected if science doen't need those specimens? :headscratch:

Posted a thread below. My wish vs, scientific professional objection + legal constraints.

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BobWill
2 hours ago, danthefossilman said:

I also wish "surface" collecting of exposed "common" species of vertebrate fossils could be collected by non-professionals.

 

I have had several open honest conversations with paleontologists who cite the same objections to our ability to collect exposed surface vertebrates: lack of professional knowledge, training for fossil identification, excavation, preservation, data collection and documentation.

 

 

I'm a little confused over what you mean by “surface” collecting. I always thought it meant fossils that were just lying on the surface but in this thread it seems to be conflated with some element of “excavation” in some cases. I never heard of anyone doing any digging for a fossil that wasn't already partly exposed on the surface so that is one of the two kinds of collecting. If that is considered "surface collecting" that doesn't leave us a word for collecting fossils that don't need excavation and for context that can be important.

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Shellseeker

Agree with Al Dente. BLM has almost no meaning in my state of Florida.  The Jupiter Inlet may have a couple of square miles.

Public lands are "in general" controlled by state and local rules. The vast majority of river bottom is open to fossil hunting with a $5 yearly permit.

 

My basic thought process is that actual state laws with fines and penalties apply to trespassing on private or public lands.  I expect and hope that authorities enforce existing law. 

On my treasured Peace River, I sometimes notify Fish & Wildlife when I encounter egregious violations like excavating the river bank with power motors. Thankfully, that activity is not a common occurrence.

 

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aplomado

Some things are legal in some areas and illegal in others... we can't always assume a poster is doing something illegal.

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BobWill

Even what is considered private property can vary from state to state. In Texas many (but not all) privately owned creeks are open to public collecting. Some of us always ask permission anyway and respect property owners preferences just to keep the collecting community in higher regard.

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danthefossilman

I am glad to see so many informative posts.

 

Hope the dialogue has helped.

 

I think, at a minimum, "clarifying" Vert fossils were collected legally within posts is a great start. It means the person who posted understands and abides by collecting rules and regs.

 

As I live in California, I am familiar with the collecting laws here.

 

I think experienced members in different states, can "weigh in" if clarification is needed to members who may not understand collecting rules in their locals or direct, via links, members to online resources.

 

In this way, we as an legitimate online collecting community, help take a leadership role in promoting legal collecting standards.

 

Perhaps we can become an example to the fossil collecting community at large?

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danthefossilman
2 hours ago, Kane said:

I'm not sure how this could be implemented, as it might become cumbersome for all members who collect verts to preface their fossil hunting trips, etc., with a claim that they did so legally.

 

It would be a little like reporting on what we bought at the store and prefacing it with "and I didn't shoplift it!" It may be easier to assume the principle of charity whereby we should assume the member who has collected the fossil did so within the bounds of the law. In this way, we extend to all our members the very best interpretation of their collecting activity, and provide them with the benefit of the doubt. 

 

 

I think I have a really GOOD IDEA. Why don't we have a logo that has a link to a member pledge that is attached to our profile (shows at the bottom of posts)  that demonstrates (without words) we collect in compliance with State and Federal laws. I cannot see a man-power down-side to this? 

 

 

 

 

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jpc

Although it is a good idea, I will quote Kane:

It would be a little like reporting on what we bought at the store and prefacing it with "and I didn't shoplift it!" It may be easier to assume the principle of charity whereby we should assume the member who has collected the fossil did so within the bounds of the law. In this way, we extend to all our members the very best interpretation of their collecting activity, and provide them with the benefit of the doubt. 

 

About twenty years ago, a teenager friend of mine told me that the only kids who wore DARE t-shirts were the druggies.  

 

 

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