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Boy Scout leaders get death threats for toppling ancient rock formation

AFP-JIJI

Two U.S. Boy Scout leaders said Friday they have received death threats after a video of them toppling an age-old rock formation in the western state of Utah went viral online.

Nearly 2 million people have watched the video of Glenn Taylor pushing a massive 170-million-year-old red rock over in Goblin Valley State Park, filmed by fellow Scout leader Dave Hall.

The pair, who celebrated by doing high fives after the rock fell, insisted they pushed it because it was loose and they feared it could topple onto a visitor to the park visitor.

But facing possible felony charges, they admitted they probably should have found a park ranger before taking action themselves, whether filmed or not.

“I think we made the right decision, but probably the wrong method,” Hall said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “We take full responsibility for whatever mistake we made, and we’re open to whatever that means from the state, from the Boy Scouts’ office, etc.”

The YouTube clip, of the pair cheering and laughing after Taylor used his body to lever the huge rock off, has been viewed around the world since being posted earlier in the week.

“I’ve gotten over 100 death threats on the Internet already,” said Hall. “I’ve got people all over the world telling me they are going to kill me because I made the decision that lives are more important than this rock staying here a few more hours.”

They had been leading a small group of Scouts in studying and playing amid the eerie and spectacular rock formations.

Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said possible criminal charges were being considered. “This is not behavior that is appreciated or should exist in state parks,” he told the Deseret News. “This has been formed for literally millions of years, and it’s supposed to last for a long time. It doesn’t need individuals doing the work of Mother Nature.”

A Boy Scouts of America spokesman condemned the action. “We are shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior,” Deron Smith said in a statement. “For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America has been a leader in conservation — from stewardship to sustainability. The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach,” Smith added. “We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action.”

The spokesman noted that the organization teaches its 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members to “leave no trace.”

In the video, the two men are seen clearly excited by their feat. “We have now modified Goblin Valley,” said Hall, prompting a cheer. “A new Goblin Valley exists, with, uh, this boulder down here (at) the bottom,” he added, pointing the camera at the rock resting below its former perch.

“Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die,” the cameraman continued. “Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way. So, it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley.”