The government has been carrying out trials into the feasibility of gassing badgers as part of its bovine TB reduction plan.
The tests are being carried out to examine how carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide – both types of poison – travel through setts, using a badger-free sett to test the concentrations reached within the burrow systems. Gassing with cyanide was made illegal in 1982, but after pilot culls using the ‘free shooting’ method failed to reach cull targets, other methods are being looked in to.
A DEFRA spokesperson confirmed that it has been conducting tests in response to a Freedom of Information request, and that it was part of the 25-year TB eradication plan. The news was condemned by some groups, including the Green Party and Humane Society International, but the recent announcement from DEFRA, in which it stated its plans to achieve TB-free status in England by 2038, said that tackling the disease in wildlife remains part of the plan.