Good news! It turns out there are regional genetic differences, and some Tasmanian Devils may be resistant to the devastating Devil Facial Tumour Disease.
from The Brisbane Times:
Some devils from the northwest of the state are genetically different from their peers and potentially resistant to cancer, the study has found.
from The Australian:
“If this proves to be correct, then genetic rescue programs are likely to be detrimental,” the scientists conclude. Instead, they say it may be better to focus on isolating and protecting the lucky 20% of devils in the northwest of Tasmania.
Sydney Morning Herald says,
The research opens the door to possibly breeding the more resistant devils in captivity before releasing them into the wild.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Kathy Belov said the identification of a small number of genetically different devils in the North-West population opened exciting new research opportunities.
The image at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.
3/20/2010: Scientific American:
Nearly 70 percent of the world's Tasmanian devils ... have been killed in the past 10 years by an infectious cancer called devil facial tumor disease.... So far, no cure has been found, and the disease has spread to almost every corner of the remote island off the southeastern coast of Australia, the only place on Earth where they live in the wild. But now...