Three men are facing felony charges for the ‘killing of an endangered species’ after the Nye County Sheriff’s Department used DNA evidence and their Scorpion Task Force to track down three men who were allegedly on a ‘drunken rampage’ and killed one of the rarest species of fish on planet earth. The security footage you can see below shows three men in what appears to be a golf cart with off-roading capabilities (OHV). What we don’t get to see on camera is the three men allegedly firing off 10 rounds from a gun, drinking, shooting (at) rabbits, trespassing on the Devils Hole site at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge by shooting their way through the gate, and last but not least: killing an endangered species (the extremely rare pupfish) by swimming in the extremely delicate and protected habitat.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all for getting drunk in the woods and having a good ol’ time. But when you start shooting down fences, sneaking into National Wildlife Refuges, and killing endangered species that’s waaaayyyy fucking past the line. Like, the line was crossed back when you started shooting at rabbits with no intention of eating them, but whatever, let’s move on.
Here’s the Devils Hole that they men snuck into that is home to the endangered pupfish (and which has an underwater camera):
Sheriff’s officials say the incident unfolded at around 7:20 p.m. on April 30 after the men, who had been drinking, went out shooting rabbits and ended up at Devils Hole, a body of water that is part of Death Valley National Park.
The pool, which is about 8 feet by 40 feet wide and 500 feet deep, is the only natural habitat for a population of about 115 pupfish that evolved there for thousands of years.
“It is very endangered and it has the smallest natural habitat of any vertebrate species on Earth,” park spokeswoman Abby Wines told BuzzFeed News.
Schwinkendorf, Reyes, and Sargent shot their way through two gates to get into the area, the park service reported, and then tried to disable the security system. But the men failed and a security camera instead recorded the men trespassing.
An underwater camera set up to record pupfish habitat and activity later caught one of the men wading into the water. According to park officials, the man “left his boxer shorts behind in the water.”
“Alcohol was involved,” the park service said in a statement. “Three beer cans were left behind and one man vomited.”
Less than two days later, park employees found a dead pupfish floating in the water. An analysis showed that it had died during a window of time that included the men’s alleged trespassing. The Nye County Sheriff’s Department reported that the “intrusion is believed to have resulted in the death of at least one endangered Devils Hole pupfish.”
The three men, aged 26, 29, and 35 are all now facing federal felony charges for the killing of an endangered species, so what might’ve started out as drunken shenanigans has resulted in a serious shit storm for everyone involved. The researchers (and world) lost one of the most critically endangered and rare species of fish in America, and these dudes allegedly drank their way into felony charges. I don’t envy a single party involved in this total debacle.
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