Three Nevada men have been questioned by investigators about vandalism in an environmentally fragile area of Death Valley National Park that may have killed one of the rarest fishes on earth, the AP reports. No arrests have been made in the April 30 intrusion while authorities continue to investigate what could be a federal crime, Nye County Sheriff's Sgt. David Boruchowitz said. The men may be held responsible for the death of at least one critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish, Boruchowitz said, along with conspiracy, trespassing and damage to habitat charges.
Investigators determined the three had been shooting rabbits in the area before they climbed a fence into Devils Hole, a protected sanctuary just east of Death Valley National Park, Boruchowitz said. Police say they fired at least 10 shotgun blasts in the preserve, hitting a motion sensor and shooting the locks off of two gates. The National Park Service said they left beer cans and vomit, and one man waded into Devils Hole, leaving his boxer shorts in the water. Boruchowitz said two surveillance cameras and several signs also were damaged. On Monday, one of the pupfish was found dead, the Park Service said. Just 115 of the inch-long fish were found in a periodic count last month in their hot spring-fed pool. Biologists closely monitor the rare species, which numbered more than 500 in the 1970s. (Read more endangered species stories.)