Archaeologists: Looters Steal WNC History - WSPA.com

Archaeologists: Looters Steal WNC History

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Federal officials say priceless artifacts are being removed from public lands in western North Carolina at an alarming rate. Federal officials say priceless artifacts are being removed from public lands in western North Carolina at an alarming rate.

Underneath the brush and deep in the ground lie centuries-old artifacts -- remnants of Native American tribes in western North Carolina.

“People are stealing history from the rest of us,” said Rodney Snedeker, U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and tribal liaison.

In recent years, the number of looters vandalizing historical sites in the national forests has doubled to about 20 to 25 a year, according to Snedeker.

The increase is making it harder for Snedeker and others in his field track who and what came before us.

“Often these people are digging in sites that contain burials and human remains.”

Snedeker says the forest service has tracked 3,000 archaeological sites across Nantahala and Pisgah national forests which contain valuable information.

Looting is a federal crime. First-time offenders can be fined up to $20,000 and spend a year in prison.

Snedeker says rangers monitor historical sites and in some cases, use surveillance equipment to catch thieves in the act.

He believes the increase in looting is related to the economy, but it’s a crime that doesn’t pay.

Second-time offenders can be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced up to five years behind bars.

If you happen to find an ancient artifact, the U.S. Forest Service asks that you call the nearest park service. Record the location of your discover and take a picture of it.

While it is illegal to remove the time, Snedeker says you can help archaeologist in discovering history.

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