Endangered Pupfish killed possibly by Devils Hole vandals in Death Valley

This is the small lake where the remaining Pupfish live and survive. [Photo By: KSNV]

The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nye County Sheriff's Office are investigating damage to government property and unauthorized entry of Devils Hole last weekend. One endangered Devils Hole pupfish was found dead. The National Park Service is offering a reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the men.

About 7:20pm on April 30, three men in an OHV drove off-road around a gate at the Devils Hole parking lot. They discharged a firearm at least 10 times, shooting locks on two gates, a motion sensor on the security system, and several signs. One man swam in Devils Hole and left his boxer shorts behind in the water. Alcohol was involved; three beer cans were left behind and one man vomited.

Park employees found an endangered Devils Hole pupfish dead on Monday. A necropsy is being performed on the pupfish to determine if the men's actions might have caused the death of this critically endangered species.

Although the men attempted to dismantle the security system by shooting a motion sensor and removing cables from two cameras, parts of the system continued to function during their entire time at Devils Hole. Video cameras recorded the men climbing over the fence and driving away in the direction of Crystal.

Devils Hole is a detached unit of Death Valley National Park and is is the only natural habitat of the critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis). The National Park Service works in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife to protect the endangered Devils Hole pupfish and its habitat. There was only 115 observable pupfish in Devils Hole counted during April's spring survey.

Investigators are seeking information about the incident. The OHV appeared to be a blue Yahama Rhino which had been extensively customized with an added seat and safety cage. A reward of up to $5,000 is available for information leading to arrest and conviction in this case. Tips can be reported to the National Park Service's Investigative Services Branch at 888-653-0009


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