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Ben Gurion Customs Inspectors Prevent 'Frog Terror Attack'

Customs inspectors at Ben Gurion Airport nabbed a smuggler who had attempted to bring some 30 poison dart frogs into the country
By David Lev
First Publish: 4/18/2013, 1:33 PM

Poison dart frogs
Poison dart frogs
Parks and Nature Authority

Working on a tip, customs inspectors at Ben Gurion Airport nabbed a smuggler who had attempted to bring some 30 poison dart frogs (dendrobatidae), the release of which into Israel's environment could be “catastrophic,” environmental officials said. The smuggler, along with an accomplice, attempted to bring the frogs into Ben Gurion Airport earlier this week, but they were halted before they could leave the customs inspection area.

The frogs are very small, even when fully grown (many are 1.5 centimeters in length fully grown, although some can reach six centimeters). The frogs are very colorful, and are very much in demand by collectors. The frogs are sold in Europe for between 50 and 120 euros apiece.

However, Israeli officials said, if released into the environment the frogs would quickly reproduce and turn into a dominant species and decimate, if not destroy, local varieties of amphibians, fish, and plants, especially protected species which are already nearly extinct.

The suspects, who arrived in Israel from the Netherlands, are being questioned by police and charges are likely to be brought. Israeli authorities conferred with Interpol and other international agencies on information which led to the pair's arrest. While the two are not suspected of “terrorism” per se, police said that the havoc that would have been caused by the escape of some of the frogs into the environment, and the cost to society, would have had a similar effect to that of an eco-terror attack.