Video shows trespassers removing poisonous toads from Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
At least two people were caught on camera stealing “psychedelic toads” from an Arizona park — and park officials want the public’s help finding the thieves.
The theft happened Thursday night between 9 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., according to a Facebook post from the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
The video shows people carrying plastic grocery store bags with the wriggling toads inside. At one point, a woman can be seen holding a toad before putting it into a bag.
Details were not immediately available regarding the exact number of people in the group that took the frogs.
The group violated the park’s vandalism rule by removing the toads without permission and were in the conservation area after-hours, according to the park’s Facebook post. Park officials said they turned the video clips in to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident to Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and anyone who recognizes the people in the video should call 602-876-1000, according to the park.
The theft of the toads is the second incident of vandalism in the Cave Creek area in the last week, according to 12 News. Seven saguaro cacti and a boulder were found spray-painted on the Black Mountain hiking trail last Sunday, 12 News reported.
The trail is about five miles south of Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
Sonoran Desert toads, also known as Colorado River toads, are native to North America and are one of the largest toads found on the continent, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
They’re common in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, but can be found in an area ranging from Central America to southwestern New Mexico and Sinaloa, Mexico, according to the Desert Museum. The toads have also entered southeastern California but haven’t been seen there since the 1970s.
The toads have “extremely potent, defensive toxins,” in their skin that are strong enough to kill full-grown dogs, according to the Desert Museum.
The toxins also contain hallucinogenic properties, with “a chemical makeup similar to LSD,” according to a 1994 Los Angeles Times article, which also detailed the practice of “toad licking” and “toad smoking” — where the toxins are dried and smoked.
A New York Times article, also from 1994, detailed the arrest of Bob Shepard, a 41-year-old teacher, for possessing hallucinogens including Sonoran Desert toad venom.
Shepard was the first person arrested for possessing the venom, which is classified as a Schedule 1 hallucinogen along with mescaline and LSD, according to The New York Times.