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Arizona Authorities Looking For Sonoran Desert Toad Thieves

July 26, 2018



Officials with Arizona’s Maricopa County Parks and Recreation and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are looking for three people who were captured on video stealing Sonoran desert toads (Incilius alvarius) from the state’s Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area July 19.

Sonoran desert toad

Viktor Loki/Shutterstock

The Sonoran desert toad has a powerful skin secretion that is similar in chemical structure to the hallucinogenic psilocin, a psychedelic mushroom alkaloid.
 

In one of the clips released on social media, a toad is seen moving around in a plastic bag, while another clip shows a woman putting a toad into the bag. 

Natural resource theft in the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Natural resource theft in the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area - July 19, 2018 at 9:58 pm. NOTE: Please note that these are RAW, UNEDITED videos. Some of the language and content may not be appropriate for certain audiences. Second video in comments. Once again, we need your help! On Friday, July 19 between 9 pm and 12:30 am, the individuals in these videos were spotted removing natural resources (Sonoran Desert Toads) from the Spur Cross Conservation Area. Not only were they in the conservation area after hours, they have also violated Park Rule R-109. R-109 VANDALISM 1. Destroying, damaging, or removing any tree, shrub, wildflower, cactus, or any other vegetation, or any other vegetative product or by-products without first obtaining a written permit from the Department. 2. Destroying, damaging, defacing or removing any County property or property administered by the Department. These clips, along with several others, have been turned over to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and an investigation is underway. If you recognize these individuals, please contact the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1 (800) 352-0700 or MCSO at (602) 876-1000. Thank you!

Posted by Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area on Monday, July 23, 2018

According to the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area Facebook page, the three suspects, two men and a woman, violated Park Rule R-109, Vandalism

  1. Destroying, damaging, or removing any tree, shrub, wildflower, cactus, or any other vegetation, or any other vegetative product or by-products without first obtaining a written permit from the Department.
  2. Destroying, damaging, defacing or removing any County property or property administered by the Department.

While the toad, also called the Colorado River toad is not a protected species and is legal to remove from the wild with a valid fishing license, the suspects, if captured, will face vandalism charges and natural resource theft.


Natural History And Captive Care Of The Colorado River Toad


The Sonoran desert toad has a powerful skin secretion that is similar in chemical structure to the hallucinogenic psilocin, a psychedelic mushroom alkaloid. It is not known why the suspects stole the toads, but the hallucinogenic properties of its poison may be the reason. 

"It's not possible to lick or eat toad venom, and hallucinate without risking or experiencing severe life threatening toxicity, such as convulsions or irregular heart beat," Dr. Steve Curry with Banner Health told 3TV/CBS 5. “Toad licking can be extremely dangerous.”

Sonoran desert toads is North America’s largest native species of toad. It can grow from 3 to 7 inches in length and is an olive green or brown in coloration with freckled orange or brownish spots on its dorsum. Its range extends from southeast California to extreme southwest New Mexico and into Mexico. 

 

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