Vandals went on a crime spree this month at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument northeast of Cortez, where they damaged signs and dumped about 700 pounds of animal carcasses.
In what may be separate incidents, several signs and trailhead facilities were destroyed in the Sand Canyon Pueblo area, said Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer Logan Briscoe.
He said about 700 pounds of animal carcass parts also were illegally dumped in the Goodman Point area near the mouth of Rock Creek Canyon.
He said the vandalism and dump site were discovered Jan. 21 and he speculated that the incidents occurred the weekend of Jan. 17.
"They're obviously in the same general area, about a mile from each other, but we don't have anything to say they're definitely related," Briscoe said.
Briscoe believed the animal parts - elk, deer and cattle - likely came from a commercial or individually owned meat processing facility, but BLM investigators have been unable to identify any brands or unique tags that would lead to the culprit or culprits.
He said only one set of tire tracks was found, indicating the entire load was dumped on one trip to the site.
Briscoe said neither incident is unique to the area save for the magnitude of the dump site; single animal carcasses are commonly discarded illegally on public lands, and the Upper Sand Canyon area is vandalized about once a year.
He said the signs will be replaced at taxpayer expense, but if the vandals are caught any fines would be used to cover the cost of replacement.
The area is popular among hikers and mountain bikers.
"Many people enjoy visiting the monument's cultural sites and exploring its trails," said LouAnn Jacobson, Monument Manager.
"When vandals inflict this kind of damage, it requires taxpayer dollars to make repairs. Unfortunately, these individuals are harming the experience of visitors to this area and directly impacting the efforts of all the volunteers who contribute to the protection of the Monument's resources," she said.
If the dumpers are caught, Briscoe said he would request the offenders be forced to clean up the area themselves unless the investigation drags on for several weeks.
"Critters have already gotten into it and there are parts and bones spread from the top to the bottom of the canyon - within a couple of weeks it won't be worth picking them up," Briscoe said.
If caught, the perpetrators could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.
Anyone with information on the crimes is asked to call the BLM at 882-5627.