We have been discussing the scourge of graffiti and destruction by vandals in our national parks. The lack of deterrence was vividly shown by the laughable fine given to actress Vanessa Hudgens for defacing a rock wall. An exception to this dismal enforcement may be the case of three men who were caught on video drunkenly vandalizing Death Valley National Park and possibly causing the death of an endangered Devils Hole pupfish. Steven Schwinkendorf, Edgar Reyes and Trenton Sargent are all facing felony charges including killing of an endangered species, destruction of habitat, trespassing, and destruction of property. One is charged with the crime of an ex-felon possessing a firearm.
On the evening of April 30, the three men allegedly broke into the 40-acre Devils Hole Unit of Death Valley National Park. According to prosecutors, they shot at locks and the unit’s security system before trashing the area. The park rangers found cans, vomit, and a pair of “dirty” boxer shorts in the Devils Hole pool. That last disgusting item may be key to the case. The rangers have done DNA testing and also found a dead pupfish in the small pool. They also have the surveillance footage which not only shows one of the men wading in the water but also the off-road vehicle later tracked to Schwinkendorf.
You can see the surveillance video here.