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The capture of a cane toad in NSW has set alarm bells ringing. 

A cane toad has been found on the NSW Central Coast, leading to fears that the invasive pest is more widespread than previously thought.

The toad was spotted by a dam in the town of Somersby, just 85 km north of Sydney CBD. The family who captured it took it to the nearby Australian Reptile Park, giving the park’s general manager Tim Faulkner cause for concern.

“It’s extremely alarming to see one here, and we can only hope it was a one-off incident and they haven’t been breeding,” Mr Faulkner said.

Cane toads, known for their spread across the northern parts of Australia after they were introduced to Queensland in 1935, have established themselves north of Coffs Harbour over the last 20 years.

It’s believed the cooler weather south of Coffs Harbour has stopped them from moving lower into NSW, making sightings of them further south rare. The NSW Department of Primary Industries believes the amphibians are sometimes accidentally transported from Queensland or northeast NSW to other parts of the state.

An increase in sightings, including an incident in the Hunter region earlier this year, has led to concerns the species may be adapting to cooler weather, which would have disastrous consequences.

“If they adapt to the cold, they threaten native wildlife across NSW, Mr Faulkner added. “Catastrophic decline and near-extinction events of native wildlife have occurred due to the cane toad.”

When attacked, the toads excrete a poisonous venom that is rarely fatal to humans, but is deadly to animals.

Any sightings should be reported to the DPI and photos should be submitted for identification.