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Trio Arrested in Death of Endangered Fish Killed in Drunken Rampage: Cops


Trio Arrested in Death of Endangered Fish Killed in Drunken Rampage: Cops

Authorities in Nevada have rounded up a trio they say are the men who took out an extremely endangered fish during a booze-soaked vandalism spree at a U.S. National Park last month.

A joint effort by the National Park Service and the Nye County Sheriff's Office Scorpion Task Force led to the arrest of Steven Schwinkendorf, Edgar Reyes and Trenton Sargent.

Authorities say Schwinkendorf, Reyes and Sargent drunkenly broke into the secured habitat at Devils Hole in Death Valley National Park on April 30. The area is the only place on earth where the extremely rare Devils Hole pupfish calls home.

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Charges against the three are pending.

The men allegedly left behind beer cans, vomit and boxer shorts in the water, where just 115 of the precious fish live, according to last count in April.

After motion sensors alerted officials to the break-in, which involved the men firing a shotgun about the habitat, according to authorities, one of the pupfish was found dead.

Surveillance cameras recorded the men climbing over the fence and driving away in the direction of Crystal, Nevada. 

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said it wasn't too diffficult to catch up with the men, thanks largely to the fact that they had been driving around in a distinctive vehicle that was also caught by the security footage.

The video shows the men riding in a blue Yamaha Rhino that had been customized with an added seat and safety cage, according to an NPS release.

"It wasn’t anything that took a lot of technical effort," Sheriff Wehrly told InsideEdition.com.

The sheriff's office believes at least one Devils Hole Pupfish was killed, but it's possible that more deaths could follow due to damage to their food sources and egg sites, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Killing an endangered species is a felony.

The fish population fluctuates widely each season, sometimes going as high as 500 while plummeting to just a dozen or so at other times.

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The NPS began to secure the pupfish habitat after the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that developers could not pump water from the area.

The security was put in place to prevent vandals who might be among the many opposed to the decision, which was made to save the rare, albeit useless, fish.

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