Vandals target rock art

(KSL) Like the people who created them thousands of years ago, the images of wild animals and human figures chipped into the rock at a Utah site known as the “Rochester Panel” speak to Jonathan Bailey’s soul.

“Creating rock art is an extension of nature,” said Bailey, a 20-year-old artist from the nearby town of Ferron.

“You’ve got an artistic and a natural force sort of blended into a single set of images,” he said.

Bailey says he visited his first prehistoric site with his family when he was 6 years old. Over the past 13 years, he’s spent countless hours wandering Utah’s remote San Rafael Swell, finding pristine cultural sites that don’t appear to have been touched since their original creators left them behind centuries ago.

Recently, however, Bailey has noticed a disturbing trend. It used to be that he would find vandalism at three sites a year. Now, he says, he’s finding it at as many as 10 sites annually.

“It’s really almost murder,” he said, describing the damage he’s found to petroglyph panels, rock shelters and other sensitive cultural sites. “You’re killing something that’s existed for thousands of years.”

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