The Tasmanian devil has been listed as an endangered species by the Tasmanian Government.
A deadly and disfiguring facial cancer, which often kills within months, has cut the island state’s wild devil population by as much as 60 per cent.
The reclassification from vulnerable to endangered status highlights the severe nature of the threat to the marsupial.
Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn said the upgrading to endangered status reflected the plunge in the devil population resulting from the facial tumour disease. “The order has now been gazetted, and the new status becomes official today,” Mr Llewellyn said.
Wildlife and disease experts are working with state and commonwealth governments to combat the disease.
Tim Dub photograph
Scientists have been shocked to find high levels of potentially carcinogenic flame retardant chemicals in Tasmanian devils, a discovery certain to fuel a global campaign to ban their use, according to Matthew Denholm, writing today in The Australian.
The Australian has obtained, under Freedom of Information, preliminary results of tests ordered by the Tasmanian Government on chemicals found in fat tissue from 16 devils.
They show surprisingly high concentrations of toxic chemicals used in flame retardants commonly found in computers, white goods, carpets and foam in bedding and furniture.
Scientists yesterday said more research was needed to establish if the chemicals helped trigger devil facial tumour disease, a rare communicable cancer that threatens to drive the carnivore to extinction.
The International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network said the findings also raised concerns for human health.
IPEN co-ordinator Mariann Lloyd-Smith said the findings added weight to “a global push to ban flame retardants, some of which have been linked to reproductive disorders and cancers in animals and humans.”