Tasmanian Devils Could Be Extinct in 25 Years Due to Cancer - Study

By @Len_IBTimes on

The Tasmanian devil, the world's largest surviving marsupial carnivore, could become extinct in 25 years if an infectious cancer would not be properly managed, experts predict.

The Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), thought to be transmitted by biting during mating,   was first detected in north-east Tasmania in 1996. Since then the cancer has quickly reduced devils' populations by 60%.

Testing and culling is widely used to control disease in livestock, but the same strategy is not proven to work for wild animals.

Between 2004 and 2010, culling trials of devils on failed to prevent the spread of DFTD. Scientists have recently simulated the impact of more aggressive culling, but the simulation showed need to kill unrealistically large numbers of the animals.

"For all the models we used, we found the removal rate required to suppress disease was higher than that which would be feasible in the field," said Nick Beeton, from the University of Tasmania.

"Disease suppression can only work if you can catch enough of the infected animals in the population to make sure the disease won't bounce back. Our models show that even for a trappable animal like the Tasmanian devil, catching enough of them to eradicate disease is a tall order."

The findings were reported in the Journal of Applied Ecology, published by the British Ecological Society.



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