Earlier this year, Federal Officials in Utah posted the confidential location and description of about 900 artifacts - by mistake. Reveal News reported the Bureau of Land Management’s error this week. Now archaeologists are worried that these artifacts are now vulnerable to looters.
Bill Doelle is the President of the non-profit Archaeology Southwest. He said the unlimited reach of the internet is part of what concerns him. He said if something is tucked away in some obscure library, it's not likely for more than one or two people to ever access, "versus something that is literally out there for pretty much universal access."
Doelle said almost all archaeological sites are fragile, and most are sacred to Native Americans. He added that's why there are federal laws in place that keep their location and unique identifiers confidential.
"I see this kind of thing as an invitation to sort of a low-risk, and potentially high-return opportunity to engage in looting," said Doelle.
The BLM has since removed the report, and reposted a version with the sensitive information blacked out.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.