Conservationists say a relocated population of Tasmanian devils is now thriving on an island safe haven, free from a deadly facial tumour disease which has plagued the species.
The devils were bred in captivity and first released on Maria Island off Tasmania's east coast a year ago, and are now interacting with tourists and breeding. The devils have since had about 20 babies, and there are now about 50 devils on the island. The relocation program is a test case to see if mainland Tasmania can be repopulated with captive bred devils if all the wild animals are killed by a contagious facial cancer.
David Pemberton, the manager of the Save the Devil Program, says a similar release will soon happen down on the Tasman peninsula following the Maria Island success.
"We're looking at Forestier and Tasman, and we've done a lot of ground work there, and we're hoping to be ready to re-introduce animals there in 2015," Mr Pemberton said.
"It's a bit early to pick the exact date because it all depends on how confident we are that we've got disease off those two peninsulas.
"That's the critical aspect. Once weâve made that decision then we can plan the re-introduction."