Like the related thylacine, or Tasmanian wolf, the Tasmanian devil was relentlessly hunted because of its inroads on domestic livestock and poultry. Although it survived in sizable numbers in remote areas of the island, it became threatened by fatal a contagious facial cancer that spread steadily and decimated infected populations beginning in the late 1990s. In 2009 the Tasmanian devil was officially declared endangered. A lack of genetic diversity in the marsupial facilitated the cancer's spread; the more recent discovery of a developing tolerance and resistance in some animals has raised hopes for the species. Efforts also have been made to establish a sizable disease-free population on the Australian mainland.
The Tasmanian devil is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Marsupialia, family Dasyuridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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