The mayor of a sprawling Alberta community is pushing to have a 1,000-year-old crater, confirmed as the site of a rare meteorite impact, turned into a protected zone.

Woodlands County mayor Jim Rennie said once news spreads of the rare designation of their local crater, many people will flock to the community to get a piece of it.

"Once people know about this, people will want to see it," he said. "How we can do that and still preserve the site and the beautiful nature that we have out here? That will be something we need to work on together."

The crater is one of only 12 sites of its kind in the world. The site is currently labelled as a provincial historic resource. Anyone who disturbs the area could face a $5,000 fine or a year in jail.

Yet the county wants more done to protect those from simply just walking onto the site. No signs or fences currently guard the crater.

"Once people know about this, people will want to see it," Rennie said.

Researchers started looking at the site as a possible meteorite crater last year.

It is being viewed as an ideal place for scientists to learn more about meteorites and their effect on the earth's surface.

Chirs Herd, an University of Alberta scientist, said he initially questioned whether the hole was created by something out of this world.

"We still joke about how skeptical I was on the phone," he said. "You typically get hundreds of inquiries before the real deal shows up at your door."

A handful of local politicians toured the crater Monday evening.

Whitecourt-St. Anne MLA George Vanderberg said he'd like to see the local residents benefit from this rare occurrence.

"We want our children locally to learn about, what's the make-up or a meteorite, how did it hit here, what would've been the impact at the time if you were in the area," he said.

Scientists believe the meteorite came form the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Local scientists are still doing tests on fragments to learn about the makeup of the rock.

With a report from CTV Edmonton's Bill Fortier