National Park Service warning against licking toads was not based on any ranger reports of people actually licking toads, according to FOIA response

Earlier this month, the National Park Service issued a warning on Facebook for park visitors to "refrain from licking" the Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius). The toad secretes toxins that can make you sick and/or make you trip, thanks to the psychedelic compound 5-MeO-DMT exuded from its skin glands. As the official warning made the rounds online, the Colorado Sun filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Park Service for all reports of "any human interaction" with the Sonoran desert toad. Turns out, there haven't been any at all.

The Facebook post "was not prompted by any specific incident," said Park Service FOIA Officer Charis Wilson, who visited with staff in the office that made the original Facebook post.

To be clear, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Some psychonauts absolutely do lick toads in the quest for hallucinogenic experiences.

From the Colorado Sun:

There are no records from any of the Park Service's 13 properties in and adjacent to the Southwest's Sonoran Desert detailing humans hunting, capturing, touching or licking the toads. The agency's Incident Management Analysis and Reporting System has zero records of visitors ever harassing toads. So it was a joke, essentially.

"Rather it was intended to convey, through humor, a general message of not messing with wildlife you come across in the park," Wilson said in an email to The Sun.