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Three charged after drunken rampage resulting in death of endangered fish

By Marilyn Malara
Three charged after drunken rampage resulting in death of endangered fish
Three men who vandalized a protected habitat on a drunken rampage in May have been identified and charged, the National Park Service announced. The men could face felonies if their actions led to the death of a critically endangered Devil's Hole pupfish, police said. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

TONOPAH, Nev., May 14 (UPI) -- Three men recorded vandalizing a protected habitat at Death Valley National Park have been identified and charged, the National Park Service announced.

Steven Schwinkendorf, 29, Edgar Reyes, 35, and Trenton Sargent, 26, face federal charges including conspiracy to commit a crime, killing of an endangered species, destruction of property, trespassing, destruction of habitat, and ex-felon possession of a firearm, the Nye County Sheriff's office said in a press release.

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The three vandals, allegedly drunk at the time, trespassed at the Devil's Hole section of the national park on May 30. They proceeded to stomp, vomit, shoot and otherwise disrupt the natural habitat of the critically endangered pupfish. One fish turned up dead after the incident.

A necropsy is currently being performed on the dead pupfish in order to determine if the men actually killed the fish. If their actions indeed resulted in the death of the tiny endangered fish, the men will face felony charges. There are said to be only 115 Devil's Hole pupfish in existence.

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Video surveillance recorded the men's antics, showing them arriving on an ATV and breaking through a gate. They reportedly shot a firearm during the rampage, hitting signs, locks and motion sensors. Three beer cans, vomit and one of the men's boxer shorts were left behind at the scene.

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"The men shot signs, the locks on two gates, and a motion sensor on the security system, discharging a firearm at least 10 times. One of the men swam in Devils Hole and left his boxer shorts behind in the water. Alcohol was a factor in this incident; the men littered the site with beer cans and vomit," the parks service said.

Members of the National Parks Service Investigative Services Branch and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have joined the Nye County Sheriff's Office in the investigation.

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