Science | October 6, 2020 12:05 pm

Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia After Thousands of Years

This plan is seen as a possible solution to Australia's feral cat problem

A Tasmanian devil
The non-cartoon version of the Tasmanian devil.
Mathias Appel/Creative Commons

Let’s say you were looking for a Tasmanian devil. This would be the actual marsupial, not the cartoon character who travels from place to place in a cyclone-esque manner. The logical place to look would, presumably, be Tasmania, located about 150 miles south of the rest of Australia. It’s been around 3,000 years since Tasmanian devils last walked on mainland Australian soil — but that period has now come to an end.

At Earther, Brian Kahn has the news of a bold Australian initiative involving the distinctive marsupials. The plan comes via Aussie Ark, who released 26 Tasmanian devils in a sanctuary in New South Wales. The plan? Track the devils and see how they get along with the other animals there.

The return of Tasmanian devils to the mainland is being done in part to assist with the country’s issues with feral cats — which have devastated populations of certain native animals. The mainland initiative is also seen as a way for Tasmanian devils to avoid a facial tumor disease which has adversely affected the population on Tasmania itself.

Could a move to a larger habitat help solve both the Tasmanian devils’ problems and those related to Australian wildlife? If this works out, the positive effects could be wide-ranging indeed.

It’s also worth mentioning that Tasmanian devils, despite being carnivores with a habit of feasting on roadkill, can actually be…pretty adorable sometimes. Are quokkas going to need to watch their backs? Maybe not — but with Tasmanian devils back on the mainland, you never know.

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