At one time, Tasmanian devils were in danger of extinction due to persecution by settlers and destruction of forest habitat, but populations have since stabilized due to protective laws.
Today, the Tasmanian devil is a Tasmanian icon, but they were once considered nuisance animals by early European settlers of Hobart Town who complained of raids on poultry yards.
In 1830, the Van Diemen’s Land Company introduced a bounty scheme to remove Tasmanian devils, as well as thylacines (Thylacinus cynocephalus) and wild dogs, from their northwest properties. They offered 2/6 (25 cents) for male devils and 3/6 (35 cents) for females.
For more than a century, Tasmanian devils were trapped and poisoned. They became very rare, seemingly headed for extinction, but the population gradually increased after they were protected by law in June 1941. Populations stabilized and may have also increased due to the increased availability of carrion in rangelands.
Tasmanian devils are now protected wholly in Tasmania, but if this apex predator does become extinct, all wildlife in Tasmania will be affected.
• Image | © Zoofanatic, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY 2.0)
• Sources | (Boyce, 2018; Fahey & Kinder, 2001; Nowak, 1999; Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, April 2018)