KIMBERLY - A Longview, Wash., man has been barred from National Park Service lands for at least a year for taking a fossil from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in 2007.

David L. Wixon pleaded guilty Sept. 30 in U.S. District Court in Portland to a charge of depredation of federal property.

Wixon dug up and removed the fossilized skull of an oreodont, a creature distantly related to today's camels that lived in the period 40 million ot 15 million years ago.

The sentencing was the result of an investigation by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management and a subsequent plea agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Wixon.

In addition to being banned from the public lands, Wixon was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution.

Jim Hammett, Fossil Beds Superintendent, said fossils like the one taken by Wixon "hold significant clues to understanding ancient life."

"We take fossil theft very seriously," he said. "When a fossil is damaged, removed from its matrix, or stolen, key information may be lost forever that could be very important to understanding early life."




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