Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Devils In The Details

An interesting story, perhaps a bit off-topic, comes to us from BerryBird at the Lake Loop blog. According to this report at Yahoo! News, scientists and wildlife officials have adopted extreme measures in their efforts to save the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii): they're shipping them to an island off the Australian coast.

Since the 1990s, Tasmanian devils have been ravaged by Devil Facial Tumor Disease, a cancer that threatens to wipe out the entire species, possibly within the next two decades. Now thirty healthy devils are being sent off to Maria Island, currently home to several endangered bird species. Tasmanian devils are considered to be mainly scavengers, but they occasionally do eat live prey, and some environmentalists are concerned about the potential effects this introduction will have on the island's birds. A representative of the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization helping with the move, says that while there is a slight risk of harming the island ecosystem, the science behind the devil introduction is "very sophisticated." Not sure what that means, but as the also article notes, "scientists can only guess at the impact the introduced carnivores will have on the uninhabited island's ecology."

Are Aussies trading the the life of one endangered species for another?


Xris said...

Ah, but Devils are mammals, and we all know that mammals are more important than other forms of life.

[Haiku couplet alert]

Endangered species
Tasmanian Devil,
now the invader

of offshore islands.
Forty-spotted pardalope
loses to mammals.

Xris said...

[the] Tasmanian Devil

BerryBird said...

Thanks for all the links Jenn. Those photos of the infected devils are really heartbreaking.