NewsWorldTasmanian devils were transferred to an island for protection....

Tasmanian devils were transferred to an island for protection. Now there are no penguins

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(CNN) – Efforts to save Australia’s endangered Tasmanian devil population led to the annihilation of thousands of seabirds on an island in the Tasman Sea, according to local environmentalists.

Several marsupials were transferred to Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania in 2012 under the Program Save the Tasmanian Devil, a joint initiative of the governments of Australia and Tasmania.

Conservation group BirdLife Tasmania said the most recent government study found that a population of small penguins, of which there used to be 3,000, had completely disappeared from the island since then.

Tasmanian devils faced the threat of extinction due to a deadly disease from a facial tumor.

A decade ago, Tasmanian devils faced the threat of extinction from a deadly, communicable facial tumor disease. Demons are carnivorous marsupials native to the island state of Tasmania.

Tasmanian devil returns to Australia after thousands of years 0:39

Maria Island was one of several islands chosen to host the “insurance populations,” according to BirdLife Tasmania. This helped the Tasmanian devil population to rebound. They went from 28 demons between 2012 and 2013 to an estimated 100 in 2016.

But the program came at a cost: the demons also “wiped out” a colony of shearwaters, a species of seabird, according to an article published last year in the magazine. Biological Conservation.

Small penguin colonies have been removed from Maria Island.

Previous warnings

Eric Woehler, BirdLife Tasmania coordinator, said the loss of birds was more a question of ‘when [va a pasar], no Yes [va a pasar]».

“When you look at the history of accidental or deliberate introductions of carnivorous predators onto oceanic islands anywhere in the world, there has always been a catastrophic impact on bird populations on those islands,” he added.

CNN has reached out to the Australian and Tasmanian governments for comment.

200 more whales appear stranded in Australia 0:44

Some conservationists and scientists had warned of the possible impact on other wildlife species before the demons moved. A 2011 report from Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said there could be “a negative impact on small penguin and shearwater colonies on Maria Island due to predation by the Tasmanian devil.”

Penguin colonies could reestablish themselves on the island, conservationists said.

Woehler said now would be a good time to remove the Tasmanian devils from Maria Island. He added that penguin colonies could grow back once the predation pressure wears off.

“There is a growing prevalence of disease resistance in wild Tasmanian devils,” he said. “The fact that there are already other safe populations around Tasmania means that Maria Island can be reestablished as an island for penguins and shearwaters without the presence of Tasmanian devils.”

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