A drunken skinny dipper in California likely had no idea he was killing one of the rarest fish on the planet. Now he faces felony charges.
Police say three men broke into a restricted area of Death Valley National Park where the Devil’s Pup fish lives. One of the men allegedly stripped down and began plodding through the habitat of the fish, killing one. Experts say his actions could lead to more deaths since he hurt the habitat and food supply. There are only about 115 Devil’s Pup fish left on Earth.
“Video footage recorded this man walking on the shallow shelf, potentially stressing and crushing pupfish, which are slow-moving, docile, and as they have no natural predators, curious by nature,” The National Park Service said.
The National Park Service released video of the April incident, which shows the men break into the area. From an underwater camera, feet can be seen walking over the habitat, killing at least one fish.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office described the incident on the Sheriff’s Facebook page.
Based on the investigation of the crime scene and the interviews with the suspects, investigators determined the threesome had been drinking and out shooting rabbits when they came to Devil’s Hole. They jumped the fence of the clearly marked protected area, and in the course of their unlawful visit destroyed an electronic sensor by shooting it with a shotgun, damaged two surveillance cameras, and rammed and shot two gates causing damage. Their unlawful visit ultimately culminated with at least one of the suspects stripping off their clothes and entering the water of Devils Hole. The suspect(s) in the water stomped around the shelf area of the critical ecosystem before swimming around the deeper water, leaving behind a pair of dirty underwear when finished.
Police used the video footage and DNA to identify the men, who now face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, trespassing, destruction of habitat, killing of an endangered species, destruction of property, and an ex-felon in possession of firearm. The Nye County Sheriff’s Office said the charges are expected to be taken to the federal level.
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