Caverns of Sonora's Butterfly formation vandalized

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Caverns of Sonora's Butterfly formation vandalized

Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 2, 2006 9:31 am

This is copied from a Texascavers listserv post:


This is a posting I hoped never to make.

On November 21, 2006, the Butterfly at Caverns of Sonora was seriously damaged. The upper portion of the right wing was snapped off and has vanished.

The incident, while not witnessed by cavern personnel, is well documented as it was intact when the guide passed by on one tour and noted as damaged on the following tour. The perps are thought to be early 20s tourists who paid for their tickets with credit cards. There was some purposeful activity to distract the guide and also some suspicious conversation about the Butterfly both before and after the breakage.

At this point, the event is being viewed as a misdemeanor by the local authorities and is receiving little, if any, of their attention. Despite the credit card receipt, the information that might be produced from that can only be obtained by subpoena and that requires the active support of the law enforcement authorities of Sutton County.

So what can you, as interested (horrified?) bystanders, do in this case? Two things, I think. First, circulate this information in the caving community so that we have thousands of eyes and ears paying attention and second, write a polite letter to the authorities listed below in which you express dismay at this incident and let them know that you will be following the case and their progress toward solving it.

The first priority is to recover the broken fragment if possible. If the joining edges are not badly damaged, a satisfactory repair may be made. After that, we might hope that the person(s) responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

If you have any information please contact cave owner Gerry Ingham at 325-387-3105 or 325-387-2970.

Here is the text of the original posting and contact information for the proper authorities. Thanks for your support.

===Carl Kunath

[Original posting from Joe Smart]
One of the amazing formations in the cave is the world
famous butterfly formation. http://www.caves.com/sonora.jpg

Recently, someone (we believe on a dare) broke and took a piece of
the butterfly, destroying it forever.

The police/authorities are doing NOTHING and I have watched my wife
cry and lose sleep over the lack of regard for this national monument
and the communities apathy.

I am asking the caving community to speak up and contact the
authorities as well as the Chamber of Commerce and let them know that
this is VERY IMPORTANT and that if they have a lead (and they do)
they need to get rolling on it. If you are truly into caves, you will
recognize this butterfly, as I do, as a priceless work of art.

Please help us!



Sonora, Texas Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 1172
205 Hwy 277 North, Suite B
Sonora, TX 76950
Phone: (325) 387-2880 or (888) 387-2880/Fax: (325) 387-5357

County Sheriff
Sheriff Joe Fincher
P. O. Box 1212
Sonora, Texas 76950
Phone: 325-387-2288
Fax: 325-387-5245

County Attorney
David W. Wallace
P. O. Box 1508
Sonora, Texas 76950
Phone: 325-387-6553
Fax: 325-387-6554


Here's a picture of the formation before this dreadful damage. What a shame. :sad: :cry: :sadbanana:

Image
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Postby graveleye » Dec 2, 2006 9:47 am

The problem with this is that the police probably have bigger fish to fry in their minds... I would guess that to assign a detective to ID all the people who went through the cave on that particular tour would seem a drain on their resources. Its a shame, but thats reality.

OTOH, if its a low crime area, and the cops are just hanging out in speed traps with nothing to do, then they need to get their butts in gear and do something meaningful and catch the vandal.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 2, 2006 10:07 am

:omg: This is terrible! Horrible news! I had one day hoped to visit these caverns myself and see the wonderful formations first hand ... particularly this extraoridinary butterfly shaped one. While the piece may be recovered and hopefully restored it won't be the same.
It's probably in the bottom of some trash barrel or flung out on the side of the road somewhere in an effort to get rid of the evidence. I'd be surprised if they kept the broken piece at all.
What the hell were these a:bleep: thinking? On a Dare?!?!

Seems to me that now tours will have to double in costs to justify having TWO guides... one in the front and one in the rear of the group to keep an eye on those who "linger" and to see if any new damage has been done.

I'm just upset, I'm sick and I'm just royally p-o-ed!
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


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Caverns of Sonora Butterfly

Postby Ronal Kerbo » Dec 2, 2006 12:27 pm

Events in this incident are moving quickly. The Caverns of Sonora and a number of other people are involved in the effort to see the vandals brought to justice . As of yesterday (12/01) the Caverns owners had the support of local law enforcement agencies as well as the National Park Service (the cave is a National Natural Landmark) and the conservation section of the NSS.

I was contacted just before Thanksgiving Day about this horrible act of vandalism and agree that it is a terrible act against one of our great speleological treasures.
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Postby Evan G » Dec 2, 2006 12:40 pm

Kerbo
Events in this incident are moving quickly. The Caverns of Sonora and a number of other people are involved in the effort to see the vandals brought to justice . As of yesterday (12/01) the Caverns owners had the support of local law enforcement agencies as well as the National Park Service (the cave is a National Natural Landmark) and the conservation section of the NSS.


It is good to hear that people are moving on this, but it is sad that they have to move at all.

Powers
OMG This is terrible! Horrible news! I had one day hoped to visit these caverns myself and see the wonderful formations first hand ... particularly this extraoridinary butterfly shaped one. While the piece may be recovered and hopefully restored it won't be the same.
It's probably in the bottom of some trash barrel or flung out on the side of the road somewhere in an effort to get rid of the evidence. I'd be surprised if they kept the broken piece at all.
What the hell were these aBleep thinking? On a Dare?!?!

Seems to me that now tours will have to double in costs to justify having TWO guides... one in the front and one in the rear of the group to keep an eye on those who "linger" and to see if any new damage has been done.

I'm just upset, I'm sick and I'm just royally p-o-ed!


:yeah that: :agree: :eek: :shock: :rant: :cry:

It is sad beyond words!!!!!!!!
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Postby Grandpa Caver » Dec 2, 2006 2:12 pm

Ive been around too long to be shocked that such a thing has happened but still it is very sad news. If the piece is recovered I would hope the formation could be repaired but I fear Ralphs comment that it's likely been tosed aside somewhere may be proved true.
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Dec 2, 2006 4:24 pm

I'm just fantasizing, but I'd like to see a bit of the offenders' anataomy broken off.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 2, 2006 4:59 pm

I'm also appalled and consider this another example of some youths' lack of values. There is never any reason for vandalism.

What were they thinking?

I've seen the butterfly and photographed it, too, many years ago. Midnight Cave, nearby, has a whole wall of similar formations.
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News Story

Postby Squirrel Girl » Dec 6, 2006 10:30 am

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Faxes Sent

Postby Andy » Dec 6, 2006 10:44 am

I sent a fax to both Sheriff Joe Fincher and County Attorney David Wallace on Monday urging them to investigate the vandalism.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Dec 6, 2006 10:51 am

Broken Butterfly Update.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/ ... 537e1.html

Cavers putting the pressure on authorities, NSS Vandalism Deterrence Reward mentioned.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 6, 2006 10:59 am

Here's the before and after picture from the article that Barbara and Cheryl posted. :cry:

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Postby Kel » Dec 6, 2006 11:43 am

Living in Sonora and being frustrated by everything from the weak cave protection laws in TX to the local authorities in this investigation, I must admit it is easy to think the justice system has failed to take this matter as seriously as we would like. But in reality, the sheriff's office has a quarter of its force on this case...That's one deputy in a force of four. In some ways, their hands are tied waiting on subpoenas etc. from the DA's office. Pressure still needs to be put on, to keep this thing alive and not put on the back burner.
Like Ron Kerbo, I was informed of this atrocity just before Thanksgiving, but was asked to sit on it.
I was at the Caverns yesterday and the owners and management are still reeling from this, so any words of encouragement to them would be much appreciated.
An earlier posting mentioned the Chamber of Commerce as a place to put pressure. Please remember, the Chamber has nothing to do with law enforcement and can do nothing in this matter. They feel as helpless as the rest of us.
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Postby Ron Fulcher » Dec 6, 2006 12:10 pm

Tragedy yes,,,fortunately they do have some evidene to go on..

Moving past that part of the dilemna though, how much will it cost to repair it without the fragment?

Could the NSS donate something towards that and maybe get a chance for a conservation message nearby?? I have never been there but just thinking we might find some lemonade from the unfortunate event..
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Dec 6, 2006 12:18 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Here's the before and after picture from the article that Barbara and Cheryl posted. :cry:


Ho boy. Another cup of coffee for Cheryl. :cofee: But I think a 20 min time difference nearly counts as a simultaneous posting!

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