MDC seeks vandals who defaced Castor River Shut-Ins in southeast Missouri

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- A favorite conservation area in southeast Missouri has been defaced, and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) officials are looking for the vandals. Foresters who maintain the area submitted photos to MDC’s Southeast Regional Office on Wednesday that show nine spray-painted areas on what are Missouri’s only known pink granite shut-ins.

The Castor River Shut-ins Natural Area at Amidon Memorial Conservation Area near Fredericktown is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and families. MDC’s Forestry Regional Supervisor Joe Garvey said the victims of this crime include everyone who enjoys the shut-ins.

“Every citizen can look at this and say ‘They just messed up my conservation area!’,” Garvey said. “This action demonstrates a complete lack of ethics, and a lack of respect for nature, the people who take care of it, and the people who enjoy it.”

Garvey said MDC staff are considering the best methods to remove the spray paint. Staff will take extra precautions in the clean-up process because the chemical agents that remove spray paint should not be released into the watershed at the shut-ins.

The Castor River Shut-Ins is Missouri’s only known pink granite shut-ins. This picturesque granite is from an igneous rock formation that is estimated to be 1.5 billion years old. Most of the exposed igneous rocks of the St. Francois Mountains region are rhyolite rather than granite.

“The majority of Missourians care about conservation and their natural areas,” Garvey said. “Most Missourian’s recognize that no one can make these beautiful natural areas that we have, we can only preserve them. But it takes less than an hour to mess them up.”

Conservation Agent District Supervisor Russell Duckworth asks that the public share any information they may have involving this case with law enforcement.

"We are certainly looking forward to pursuing formal charges against the individuals who vandalized this area,” Duckworth said.

Information can be reported by calling MDC’s Operation Game Thief toll-free number at 1-800-392-1111, which is manned 24-hours a day. Reports may remain anonymous. Duckworth said information leading to an arrest of those responsible could result in a cash reward. Information can also be shared by calling or texting Madison County Conservation Agent Scott Bumgardaner at 573-934-0824.