Ancient fossils were stolen from Death Valley National Park recently, citing a need to curb vandalism and theft at national parks.
Fossil footprints that scientists say are three to five million years old were removed from the Death Valley park area, which covers more than 3 million acres in California and Nevada, according to a statement published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Scientists discovered the footprints were missing on a recent trip to the region and alerted park authorities, according to ABC News.
"It's illegal to collect fossils, rocks, or anything else in National Parks," Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds says in the statement. "The purpose of National Parks is to conserve the landscape and everything it contains for the next generation. I ask that visitors come and enjoy all there is to see, and to leave it unimpaired for others to enjoy."