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Re: “Guest Commentary

Fossil theft has been a divisive issue for many decades. There is nothing wrong with "bone-hunting" as long as it is done responsibly, meaning discoveries are brought to the attention of science institutions. The Montana theft mentioned in the article occurred on private, not public land and the ranchers got their stolen property back and are offering it for sale. Hopefully, a museum will find the money to buy it, otherwise it will end up in a private collection, lost to science. Allowing commercial collectors the same permitted access to public lands as academic institutions would go a long way towards solving many of the theft issues. It will take work, setting up a licensing and credentialing process for the collectors, but the licensing revenues could benefit museums, universities and the public. Of course, a mechanism to insure that the most scientifically important specimens remain accessible to science is a major issue, but one that could likely be solved with creative thinking and a "bipartisan" compromise.

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Posted by pachy on 11/07/2010 at 10:01 PM

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