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Devils Move to Island Home

16/05/2005

An historic step was taken to protect the Tasmanian Devil from the ravages of Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) today as nine female devils were moved to a purpose built quarantine compound at Maria Island.

Minister for Environment and Planning Judy Jackson said the nine female devils had travelled from the North West and South of the State to their new home in the National Park.

"These young devils will be housed in specially constructed secure quarantine enclosures on the island where they will be closely monitored over the next year for signs of DFTD.

"If they get through this quarantine period they may go on to a possible role in mainland breeding programs for an insurance population.

"All nine animals were sourced from Narawntapu National Park and Southport where extensive field monitoring has not revealed any evidence of the disease," Ms Jackson said.

"The captive housing of the Tasmanian devils on Maria Island is one strategy developed as a result of the intensive field and laboratory based investigations undertaken in the State's $1.8 million Devil program.

Ms Jackson said Maria Island had been chosen to quarantine part of the captive population during the monitoring stage because it has never had a resident wild Tasmanian devil population.

"Our Disease Management Strategy is based on best practice disease management and risk minimisation principles and adopts a precautionary approach to the disease," Ms Jackson said.

"The housing of the devils in secure quarantine facilities on Maria Island was one of five management measures that were detailed in the Disease Management Strategy released in February this year.

"Establishing insurance populations of young devils, sourced from apparently disease free areas of the State, was seen as vital to ensuring genetically viable populations in captivity in the future," she said.

"Although these animals are not being released to the wild and will be housed in secure quarantine pens, it was important that they are placed in areas that are free of the disease," she said.

"As an island without devils and a presence of the disease, Maria makes an ideal location for a quarantine site.

"The devils will be kept off-display in an isolated area and managed under strict biosecurity and quarantine protocols for their health and safety."

Ms Jackson said the Maria Island aspect of the program was a joint initiative between the Parks and Wildlife Service, who manage the island, and the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

"This is a wonderful example of the cross-agency involvement in this program," she said.

Contact: Liz Wren 0428 585 930, Moya Fyfe 0400 073 880