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Farmers admit to gassing badgers

13 Aug 2005 - BBC News

Some farmers are illegally gassing badger setts because they say they are infecting their cattle herds with tuberculosis, the BBC has learned.

As badgers are a protected species, it is against the law to kill them or tamper with their sets.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) says this is now happening routinely, and wants the law changed to make it legal.

But animal protection groups say there is no firm evidence culling badgers would reduce bovine TB outbreaks.

Last year farmers received 88m in costs and compensation as a result of animal loss caused by the disease.

Farmers say the spread of TB in cattle is now out of control and blame protected badgers setts for causing it.

The NFU says many farmers are now taking matters into their own hands.

Environmentalists cite a study which found the disease was more closely associated with cattle movements than proximity to badgers.

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would look at the issue again in the autumn.

The results of the government's own scientific study have yet to be published.

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