Vandalism was the name ascribed to those "wanderers" of the East Germanic tribe who attacked and
sacked Rome in the year 455 indulging in extensive senseless destruction especially that having an innate
appeal to the mind. The motivation for killing, maiming and destruction of buildings, statuary, mosaics and
architecture was to inflict malicious harm.
Today vandalism is applied to the wonton defacement, damage, or taking of common or private property and is
generally held to be illegal. It is still regarded as senseless although graffiti may sometimes be falsely
"excused" as art.
Motives attributed to vandals include anger, envy, bravado, disaffection, taking trophy and disgruntlement
with a society or person. Some may have genes that tend to promote vandal behavior, some may do what they do
through ignorance of the consequential harm they do. Education may help to correct the behavior - hence the
reason for educative signs.
Caves appeal to the mind by virtue of their ancient natural occurrence of the formations and the
underground habitat to which rare species have adapted. In the context of Dames Cave the following have been
mentioned and employed in a Disturbance Index process: leaving litter in or around the cave site, defacing
rock forms by chipping, painting or other discoloration, removing rock formations such as stalactites or
stalagmites, removing or otherwise compromising biota inhabiting cave space or an entrance, or leaving foreign
Content of any sign with the purpose to discourage vandalism should counteract motives by the engender of
identity and empathy between a visitor and the cave environment both as to its local and distant impact.
Research into vandalism at Dames Cave included discussions with visitors to the forest and cave sites,
local residents, review of science literature specific to Dames Cave and more widely including the U.S.
Speleological Society. and discussions with scientists of the Department of Forestry, the Southwest Florida
Water Management District, the USACE, FGS and USGS.