HL Deb 27 March 1979 vol 399 cc1574-5WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the gassing of badger setts still continues as part of the policy to reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis and if so:

  1. (i) what are the boundaries of the areas in which the extermination of badgers is proceeding;
  2. (ii) approximately how many setts have been destroyed in each of the years since this activity began;
  3. (iii) whether the area of destruction is being gradually extended and if so how far; and
  4. (iv) where and when is this systematic killing of part of the nation's heritage of wildlife going to stop.


Gassing badger setts is the most humane method presently available for the control of bovine tuberculosis in badgers. Use of the method is currently confined to those parts of Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire designated as control areas by the Badgers (Control Areas) Order 1977, and a small area in Devon. Within those areas, the normal practice is to gas setts only where there is evidence of bovine tuberculosis in badgers associated with an outbreak of the disease in cattle.

The number of setts was:—

1975 (from 7th August) 238
1976 1,669
1977 1,229
1978 436
1979 (to 28th Feb.) 17
There are no proposals to extend the control areas. It is expected that the scale of gassing will decline as the level of outbreaks in these areas falls to that applying in the rest of the country. Although no term for this can be set, there are clear indications that the policy is succeeding.