Conservation status

Thylacines are classified by IUCN criteria as Extinct. The story of the decline and extinction of the thylacine is a sad tale of a deliberate strategy of persecution and a convenient scapegoat. Eighteenth-century settlers, experiencing signifiant sheep losses, employed "tiger men" to destroy Tasmanian wolves on their properties and successfully lobbied the government to instigate a bounty. While there is no doubt that thylacines killed sheep, it is thought that poaching and feral dogs were responsible for the majority of missing and dead sheep. The intense pressure placed on populations (2,184 bounty payments in 22 years as well as unrecorded deaths) of this probably never-abundant top predator would have driven thylacines to very low densities. Thylacines suddenly became very scarce in the first decade

The Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus cynocephalus) lived in open forests and grasslands of Australia. Shown here is a model. (Photo by Creation Jacana/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

of the twentieth century, with bounty payments falling from 100 to 150 per year to none between 1905 and 1910, and populations never recovered. The bounty scheme was scrapped in 1912 and the species given official protection on July 14, 1936. The last confirmed living animal died in the Hobart Zoo on September 7, 1936, and the last confirmed killing of a wild Tasmanian wolf was in 1930. There have been and continue to be sightings that appear credible but no thylacine has turned up.

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