Australia Protects Tasmanian Devils as "Endangered"

"CANBERRA -- Australia lifted protection levels on Friday for the world's largest surviving marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil, listing the animal as endangered due to a deadly facial tumour outbreak.

Devils, the size of a small dog and made famous by the fierce Looney Tunes cartoon character known as 'Taz', have been in decline since the 1990s when devil facial tumour disease ravaged the wild population, confined to the island state of Tasmania.

'This disease has led to the decline of about 70 percent of the Tasmanian devil population since the disease was first reported in 1996,' Environment Minister Peter Garrett said."

Rob Taylor reports for Reuters May 21, 2009.

Source: Reuters, 05/22/2009