Government 'looking at gassing badgers' to halt TB
THE Environment Secretary confirmed on Thursday that he was looking into the possibility of gassing badgers to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis, amid reports that some of the animals had already been gassed illegally.
Owen Paterson said hundreds of thousands of "otherwise healthy cattle" had been slaughtered because of the disease over the past ten years.
Mr Paterson said his department would, however, not resort to gassing badgers until the evidence could prove that it was a humane and effective way of disposing of them.
He said: "Until we can establish vaccines, we have to use the tools employed by other sensible countries which is to remove wildlife. We made it quite clear in our TB strategy that we would look at other methods of removing wildlife. And yes, we are looking at gassing, but we will not use it unless it is proven to be safe, humane and effective."
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Mr Paterson's comments came in answer to a question from Brighton and Hove Green MP Caroline Lucas during Defra Questions in the Commons.
She asked him to confirm if his department was undertaking new research into the possible gassing of badgers, what the scope of the research was and "why you have cause to think that the 2005 Defra review, which found the gassing of badgers couldn't be done in a humane way, is no longer valid?"
Mr Paterson replied: "Emphatically yes, because any random cull would worsen the disease."
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone (Kettering) asked Mr Paterson: "To better understand the spread of TB in wildlife, why aren't the badgers which have been culled being tested to see if they are infected or not?"
The Environment Secretary replied: "In simple terms, carcasses that have been shot would not give an accurate reading post-mortem [examination]."