Overview of threats to Tasmanian devils other than DFTD
The key threat to the survival of Tasmanian devils in the wild is Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Managing other threats to the survival of Tasmanian devils is, however, also an important part of the Program's mandate.
Possible other threats may include:
Low genetic diversity
Introduced predators: foxes, cats and dogs
Habitat loss and fragmentation
So far there are only assumptions about what poses a threat and how critical it may be. The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is working to establish the facts by expanding our understanding of the extent and impact of possible threats to low density devil populations.
Find out more about other threats to Tasmanian devils.
The threats facing the survival of the Tasmanian devil in the wild have wide implications for the Tasmanian landscape. To better understand these impacts and to help guide informed management decisions, the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has established the Ecological Impacts Unit. Like the Program itself, this unit covers a wide range of disciplines and supporting institutions. Several current PhD projects supported by the Program are specifically designed to answer fundamental questions such as changes in landscape ecology with respect to emergence of DFTD and impacts on other native meso-predators and small mammals.
Tasmanian devils are thought to be less susceptible to the threat of habitat loss than many marsupial carnivores because they are highly mobile and can happily exist in a variety of vegetations.
In some areas, however, there aren't many sites suitable for denning. If dens were destroyed in these areas, it could have a significant effect on devil numbers. This would be particularly concerning in areas where the devil population is already reduced and females are producing only one litter in a lifetime.
The habitat requirements of Tasmanian devils include:
Places to hide and shelter during the day, such as dense vegetation, hollow logs, burrows or caves;
Areas with open understorey mixed with dense patches to allow hunting; and,
Soil suitable for burrowing for maternal dens.
For devils, the combination of these features within the habitat is more important than any particular vegetation community or habitat type.
Most of Tasmania is suitable devil habitat - native bush, forestry plantations and pasture. Preferred habitats include coastal scrub or heathland, sclerophyll forest, and mixed patches of grazing land and open forest or woodland.
Since European settlement, devil habitat has been lost through clearing for agriculture, forest plantations, extractive industries and residential development, especially in eastern Tasmania. The level, and type, of effect clearing has on devils depends on whether patches of bush are left, and the type of land use.
The introduction into Tasmania of the red fox, is of serious concern to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. Foxes compete directly with Tasmanian devil juveniles. Both species share preferences for den sites and habitat, and are of similar size. The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program works with the Fox Eradication Program to monitor the possible impact of a growing fox population on Tasmanian devils.
An estimated 2000 Tasmanian devils are killed on our roads each year. The Roadkill Project is collecting information to find out how significant roadkill is to the survival of devil populations depleted by Devil Facial Tumour Disease.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
Questions concerning its content can be sent to the Internet Coordinator, by mail to:
GPO Box 44, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001, or by telephone to 03 6233 2006. login