Did people really lick poisonous toadstools? No.

This story first appeared in the strangerJason Blevins’ premium outdoor newsletter.

In it, he covers the indoor industry, as well as the fun side of being outdoors in our beautiful state.

It’s hard to find a warning issued by the National Park Service that has gained more traction. Too bad it was completely fabricated.

The agency’s Oct. 31 Facebook post imploring visitors to “refrain from licking” the large Sonoran Desert toad common in the southwest echoed through thousands of media outlets. Google “park service licking toad” and you get 1.7 million hits. Tens of thousands of media, including the most prestigious in the world, repeated the warning.

But a request for reports from agency employees detailing all interactions between park property visitors and the toads yielded no records.

The Facebook post “was not prompted by a specific incident,” said Parks Service FOIA agent Charis Wilson, who visited staff at the office that posted the original Facebook post.

The post described the Sonoran Desert Toad, also known as the Colorado River Toad, as one of the largest toads found in North America and described its croak as a “low, low pitched toot that lasts less than a second”.

“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a powerful toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the frog or put the poison in your mouth,” the Facebook post read. “As we say with most things you encounter in a national park, whether it’s a banana slug, an unfamiliar fungus, or a big bright-eyed toad in the middle of the night, please refrain from licking. Thank you. Whistle!”

The post included a motion sensor photograph of a toad “looking at your soul” at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.

The agency’s tongue-in-cheek message echoed around the world. It was also good fodder for jokers.

“A more honest title would be for the National Parks Service to throw up your hands and say, ‘Guess we have to say it out loud now: Stop licking frogs, ya dingus,'” Stephen Colbert said during his monologue on the 10 november. . “As you guessed it, these nature-loving idiots are licking these frogs in an attempt to get high.”

The Colorado Sun sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Park Service earlier this month, asking for any notes or reports detailing “any human interaction” with the Sonoran Desert Toad, which secretes a psychoactive compound that, once dried and smoked, delivers a psychedelic experience. If the park service was obligated to warn visitors of toad dangers, surely rangers had documented a litany of infractions by toad attackers. Alas, there is none.

There are no records from any of the 13 Park Service properties in and near the southwestern Sonoran Desert detailing humans hunting, capturing, touching or licking the toads. The agency’s incident management reporting and analysis system has no records of visitors harassing toads. So it was a joke, basically.

“It was more intended to convey, through humor, a general message of not messing with the wildlife you encounter in the park,” Wilson said in an email to The Sun.

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