Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tasmanian devil to get endangered species listing

Here is a sad new i read from Yahoo News:

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's Tasmanian devil will be listed as an endangered species this week as a result of a deadly and disfiguring cancer outbreak, the state government said Monday.

The disease, a fast-growing head tumour which spreads over the marsupial's face and mouth and prevents it from eating, often killing it within months, has cut the island's devil population in the wild by as much as 60 percent.

A spokeswoman for Tasmania's Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn said the small, black-haired animal would be listed as an endangered species by state officials on Wednesday.

The minister told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the animal would be upgraded from a vulnerable to an endangered species so that the "appropriate resources and effort" can be poured into protecting it.

The government has also backed a plan to build an "insurance population" of healthy Tasmanian devils at wildlife reserves, zoos and other protected areas.

"If required, these animals could be utilised to help re-establish Tasmanian devil numbers in the wild," Llewellyn said.

The facial tumour is extremely unusual in that it is a contagious cancer, spread from devil to devil by biting.

The devil is the world's largest marsupial carnivore and now only lives in Australia's southern island state.

Early European settlers named the feisty marsupial the devil for its spine-chilling screeches, dark appearance and reputed bad temper which, along with its steeltrap jaw, made it appear incredibly fierce.
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