The last time Tasmanian Devils were wild and roaming free in Australia was around 3,000 years ago. They likely disappeared due to the introduction of dingoes from Asia that were introduced to the mainland of Australia and still roam in Tasmania to this day. The poor animals recently contracted a mouth cancer that is very contagious and well as deadly. This almost pushed them to near extinction. A new project in the works is hoping to release disease-free, captive Tasmanian devils back into the wild!
The project is a collaboration between Global Wildlife Conservation, Aussie Ark, and Wild Ark. They have placed around 30 healthy Tasmanian Devils in the Barrington Tops, north of Sydney. They are free to roam the area, which is about 2 square miles, free from predators. "Each of the individuals is fitted with tracking devices so that researchers can monitor their progress and gain an insight as to how the species might behave and influence their environment if released into a wild habitat," according to the study.
Not only is the release of heathy Tasmanian Devils back into the wild their main goal, Australia has dealt with a variety of invasive species and unwanted residents. Sadly, they have hunted and even outcompeted native species in the region. "Tasmanian devils represent an apex predator, and it's hopeful that their return to areas of the country ravaged by invasive pests could return balance to the ecosystem. The "trial" Tasmanian devils will be released but routinely assessed to gather data regarding their health and reproduction activity. They will be fed to begin with, but the project hopes to wean them off handouts and push them back towards their natural hunting behaviors. If all goes well, the next step will be to return Tasmanian devils to the Australian wild," the article mentions.