Devil facial tumour disease case confirmed in North West

​Tests on a Tasmanian devil found dead on the side of a road in the state’s North West have confirmed it had devil facial tumour disease.

A member of the public found the devil, with suspected lesions, on Harcus River Road and reported it to the Department. Testing by the Department’s Animal Health Laboratories confirmed devil facial tumour disease.

“Public reports, including those from devils killed on our roads, are an important source of information that can be used to confirm the distribution of devil facial tumour disease,” Save the Tasmanian Devil Program manager Billie Lazenby said. 

“We will need more information to understand if this is an isolated diseased devil or whether the disease affects a larger proportion of the devil population in the area.”

Devil facial tumour disease was first detected in 1996 and despite early fears the disease would drive the species to extinction, 20 years of research shows devils persist in the wild with the disease.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has been collating information in relation to confirmed disease records since 2003. 

“This recent case is the first confirmed around Harcus River Road and is about 20km from the closest previous confirmed cases,” Dr Lazenby said.

“Monitoring data and modelling suggests that as the disease spreads there will be further population decline, but the population is expected to stabilise between 7000 and 10,000 individuals in the next decade or so.”

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program monitors several local devil populations across the state, with new knowledge and science helping to inform and adapt management and recovery efforts.​

For more than a decade, the program has collaborated closely with the Menzies School of Medical Research to develop an effective vaccine. ​

The program is also working with research partners and other collaborators to understand contemporary status and trends of wild devil populations and what management actions are most appropriate to ensure a resilient wild devil population. 

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Find out moreabout the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.