Monday, February 02, 2004

Parliamentary Questions

2 Feb 2004: Column 620W

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 10 December 2003, Official Report, column 522W, on badgers, whether the reference to the gassing of badgers being considered to be inhumane refers only to the use of hydrogen cyanide gas; and what gases are available for use for the slaughter of subterranean animals which have properties that do not engender distress in those animals. [150568]

Mr. Bradshaw: In his 1980 report, "Badgers, Cattle and Tuberculosis", Lord Zuckerman considered gassing as a method of capture. Having consulted the Government Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down, he recorded that:

"the only likely chemical alternatives to cyanide are carbon monoxide and nerve gases. The latter, however, are too dangerous to handle, and the former is, weight for weight, significantly less toxic than cyanide, and therefore likely to prove less effective than cyanide in practice."
He recommended that work be carried out to devise improvements in gassing procedures and this work concentrated on hydrogen cyanide. The Krebs Report points out that the subsequent investigation:

". . . cast doubt on the humaneness of this method of killing because research showed that badgers did not die immediately underground."
The following pesticides are currently approved for the control of subterranean animals:

Cymag, containing sodium cyanide, which generates cyanide gas for rat and rabbit control; and Luxan Talunex, and Phostoxin, both of which contain aluminium phosphide and generate phosphine gas for the control of moles, rats and rabbits.

These pesticides are approved on the basis that they are safe, effective, and do not cause unnecessary pain and suffering to the target animal.

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