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Poisonous dart frogs seized at Manoa home

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Image: Dept. of Agriculture Image: Dept. of Agriculture
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The state Attorney General's Office and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) executed a search warrant Thursday that involved illegal animals sent through the U.S. Mail.

Charles Nishihara, 50, was arrested at his Manoa home.

The illegal animals included four poison dart frogs that were contained in a shipment through the U.S. Mail and about 20 additional poison dart frogs found at Nishihara's Manoa home.

Several aquarium tanks were confiscated and Plant Quarantine inspectors are still inventorying the contents. While there are limited established populations of these frogs on Oahu and Maui, the frogs are illegal to possess or transport to or within Hawaii. The incident is still under investigation.

The maximum penalty for possession and transport of illegal animals is a class C felony, $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison. Anyone who knows of illegal animals or those who smuggle them into the state are encouraged to call the state's PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

The State's Amnesty Program allows illegal animals to be turned in and provides immunity from prosecution.  Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo, Panaewa Zoo in Hilo or any Humane Society - no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Poison dart frogs are native to Central America and South America. In their native range, their skin produces a toxin that has been used by indigenous people to poison the tips of arrows to kill prey. The frogs' toxicity is derived from the type of ants they eat in their native range. 

Due to the different diet in Hawaii, the frogs in Hawaii are not considered as toxic. The species found in Hawaii is bright green and black in color.  The frogs seized were of various other colors.  

To view photos of illegal animals found in Hawaii on a mobile device click here: http://bit.ly/1i0FdDw  

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