HOLYOKE, Mass. -- Two men were arrested on suspicion of digging in an area of protected fossilized dinosaur footprints, authorities in Massachusetts said.
The men, from New Jersey and Connecticut, were seen by police on Saturday afternoon walking up the stairs at the site along the Connecticut River in Holyoke carrying out rocks and tools, Capt. Matthew Moriarty said.
The men told police they did not think they were digging in the protected area.
“A check of the reservation map was made and it appears their digging was on the protected land,” Moriarty said.
The men were charged with vandalism, trespassing and an archeological violation. They were released on personal recognizance. It was not clear if they had attorneys to speak on their behalf.
According to the Trustees, the preservation organization that oversees the site, there are more than 800 dinosaur footprints in the 8-acre (3.25-hectare) area.
The area, discovered in 1802, has the footprints of four distinct dinosaurs, including Eubrontes prints that were “likely made by ancestors of the great Tyrannosaurus rex, standing 15 feet (4.5 meters) tall and 20 feet (6 meters) long," according to the Trustees.