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 is now threatened by a fatal contagious facial cancer that has spread steadily and decimated infected populations since the late 1990s. In 2009 the Tasmanian devil was officially declared endangered. A lack of genetic diversity in the marsupial has facilitated the cancer's spread; the recent discovery of a possibly resistant genetically different population in W Tasmania has raised hopes for the species. Efforts are being 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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