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Science File | IN BRIEF

Cancer Overcoming Tasmanian Devils

August 02, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A mysterious cancer is killing Australia's Tasmanian devils, whose spine-chilling screeches, dark color and reputed bad temper prompted early settlers to give them their fearsome name, wildlife officials said this week.

The disease has spread widely in the eastern and central parts of Tasmania over the last two years, causing large tumors that block the animals' eyes, ears or mouths, leaving them unable to feed. The populations of some groups of Tasmanian devils have been reduced by 85%.

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