On Thursday morning, authorities raided a home on Pinao St. in Manoa. They seized four poisonous dart frogs that were contained in a mail shipment, another 20 dart frogs inside the home, along with several aquarium tanks.
Authorities arrested 51-year-old Charles Nishihara for transporting or possessing these frogs. KHON2 caught up with Nishihara Thursday afternoon as he was being released from custody. He tells us it was all a misunderstanding.
“I made a mistake, but the results of it, I was pretty shocked, yeah, because I’ve always had the permits and everything,” Nishihara said. “The sad thing is that the ones they took were all legally obtained.”
The state says while these frogs are found in small numbers on Oahu and Maui, they’re still illegal to posses or transport under state law.
Honolulu Zoo experts say all frogs found in Hawaii are non-native species and can threaten the eco-system. “Any animal that is brought from a place where it belongs to a place it doesn’t belong can pose a threat because it can eat things that would otherwise would be food for native animals. And in some cases, it can pose a direct threat to native animals,” said Rebecca Choquette, Honolulu Zoo animal keeper.
But are these poisonous dart frogs also harmful to humans?
“Dart frogs in their native environment are poisonous to humans, but the poison is derived from their diet,” Choquette said. “Studies have shown that ones in South America, that were the ancestors of the population in Manoa, are more toxic than the ones in Manoa. And dart frogs that have been into captivity and stayed in captivity for a long time, lose their toxicity completely.”
Honolulu Zoo officials say if you come across a poisonous dart frog, you should avoid any contact with it, and keep your pets and children away from it, too.
Report the frog to the Dept. of Agriculture at 643-PEST (7378).