that fall on private
property. In the United States, meteorites that fall on private
property belong to the landowner. Contrary to common misconception, no
government agency will attempt to confiscate your meteorite and you are free to
keep or sell it. Many landowners are happy to donate specimens (or
portions of them) to universities and museums, and
such generosity makes meteorites available to the
If a meteorite hunter
wishes to search private land, he or she must obtain permission from the
landowner. It is customary to work out mutually-beneficial
agreements in which the hunter and landowner both benefit from any meteorite
discoveries. For example, the hunter may pay landowners a set price (per
pound) for any meteorites discovered.
Alternatively, the hunter and landowner may agree to split any meteorite finds.
Meteorite recovery is an expertise that requires experience, great persistence,
and often specialized equipment such as customized metal detectors.
Therefore, meteorite recovery
statistics improve greatly when experienced meteorite hunters assist in the
Meteorites that have
fallen on public lands.
Meteorites that have fallen on public lands are subject to restrictions with
respect to removal and subsequent sale. In the United States, public lands
include the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Meteorites
collected on federal lands may not be sold or bartered, and scientifically
important samples are subject to confiscation by federal agencies. The
6,000 pound "Old Woman" meteorite, discovered by prospectors on BLM land, was claimed by the US National Museum.