Friday, 8 July 2011

Mainland release mooted for Tasmanian Devils

A leading tasmanian devil expert believes some of the animals in captive breeding programs should be released into the wild on the mainland.

The deadly facial tumour disease wiping out the wild devil populations has led scientists to protect more than 100 of the carnivorous marsupials in interstate captive breeding programs.

But the University of Tasmania's Menna Jones says there is a danger these devils will adapt to become a captive species.

She says international programs with other species have found reintroduction from captive-bred animals has a fairly low success rate.

Dr Jones says it is critically important to have healthy devils living in the wild.

"Animals change when they live in captivity and they adapt to become not a domestic species but a captive species," she said.

"They may be contained but if they're in 50 to 100 square kilometres or an enclosure that's at least 100 square kilometres, they're living as wild animals, they're retaining their natural behaviours and those animals are going to be the most suitable for repopulating the tasmanian devil population."

She says devils could be released in areas where there are no dingoes and fox control measures are in place.

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