Three men have been charged with killing an endangered species, following the death of one of just 115 remaining Devils Hole pupfish.
The three men believed to be responsible have also been charged with damage to the habitat, conspiracy to commit a crime and destruction of property. They face fines of up to $50,000 and a year in prison.
The incident took place on the evening of Saturday, April 30. The suspects drove an OHV (off-highway vehicle) around a secured gate at the Devils Hole parking lot in the Death Valley National Park, Nevada. Cameras and a motion sensor were shot at and damaged along with locks on two gates and a number of signs. One member of the group went skinny-dipping in Devils Hole, leaving his boxer shorts behind. The site was left littered with beer cans and vomit.
The incident is thought to have led to the death of at least one of only 115 remaining pupfish.
Investigation of the scene led to the collection of evidence, including DNA, along with video surveillance, which located the off road vehicle driven by the suspects.
Biologists are said to be working to determine whether any damage has been done to the fish’s spawning sites and food sources.
A $5,000 reward offered by the national Park Service in a bid to find the culprits was increased to $15,000 last week after the Centre for Biological Diversity added another $10,000 to the reward.
The Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) has been described as the world's rarest fish and is on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.
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