Island refuge welcomes devils

FOURTEEN disease-free Tasmanian devils are settling into their new home on  Maria Island.

After undergoing their final health checks, the group of healthy devils arrived at their island refuge yesterday afternoon.  They are the first of up to 50 that will be shipped to the national park off the state's east coast over the next two years. 

The translocation project was approved in August despite objections from conservationists concerned about the devils' impact on other endangered species. 

Environment Minister Brian Wightman said the move would  strengthen the insurance population of the species, which has been devastated by the fatal devil facial tumour disease. 

``Devils have never been part of the landscape so there is no known risk of the facial tumour disease in the Maria Island environment,'' Mr Wightman said.

``The Parks and Wildlife Service manages the island and operates the only vehicles, so there is minimal chance of devils being impacted by road-kill.''

The devils' behaviour on their island refuge will be closely monitored. 

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said translocation was a method of last resort and had to be done carefully. 

``It's part of making sure the Tasmanian devil never goes the way of the Tasmanian tiger,'' Mr Burke said. 

The insurance population consists of about 500 devils housed in  more than 20 separate intensive breeding facilities, free-range enclosures and the wild.


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