ANIMAL campaigning group Viva! has expressed fears that plans may be afoot to bring back badger gassing to the English countryside after it appeared to be advocated at last week's Beef Expo 2012 event in Malvern*. NBA (National Beef Association) bovine TB committee chairman and South West farmer Bill Harper suggested investigating the use of gas filled foam to kill badgers en masse in their setts as a “next step . Government department Defra has previously ruled out the use of gassing as not being proven to be humane**, but Viva! fears that this decision may be overturned through pressure from farmers. Two Government-sanctioned trial 'culls' are due to start later in the year. Badgers will be shot with firearms at night by licenced marksmen. Viva! has already stated that this will be an animal welfare disaster. Justin Kerswell, Viva!'s campaigns manager says: “We have been hearing on the grapevine for a number of years that farmers want to bring back badger gassing but were told to wait for 'culls' with firearms to get the go-ahead first, and it appears that it is indeed the case. The possibility of gassing perhaps tens of thousands of badgers is sure to horrify most people. “We suspect that many farmers know that as soon as the first shot is fired badgers will scarper down the nearest hole. And that is why gassing looks to be back on the agenda. Whole setts would be wiped out with minimal effort and cost to the farmer - but what could be maximum suffering for adult badgers and their young. Data suggests that most badgers killed will be free of the disease yet they will die the same. Badgers will do whatever they can to escape the gas and foam and will attempt to dig their way out of what would quickly become underground tombs. “Badgers have been scapegoated for the TB crisis in cattle, when in fact rural mismanagement by farmers and politicians is squarely to blame. We are already facing the nightmare scenario of farmers chasing badgers through the night with guns. It won't curb TB, but we will likely see many badgers mis-shot and left to die in agony. And now gassing seems to be back on the agenda. “Farmers and politicians should stop looking for new ways to exterminate English wildlife and start looking at the real reasons why TB is spreading: rural mismanagement; 13 million cattle movements a year; intensified dairy farming practices and wildly inaccurate cattle testing. “Our message to the public is: if you don't like the idea of badgers being killed to protect the dairy and beef industries then the best thing you can do is remove yourself from this cycle of destruction and go vegan. ENDS Notes to editors * Farmer's Guardian: http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/latest-news/date-is-set-for-hearing-... ** Defra rules out gassing: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2010/09/15/control-bovine-tb/ For more information about this media release, contact Justin Kerswell by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0117 944 1000 or call the press office on the same number. More information on badger 'culling' and Viva!'s campaign is available at www.viva.org.uk/badgers The Government in England has authorised two trial 'culls' of badgers in the Autumn, which could be followed by more widespread 'culling' of badgers from 2013. The Government admits that only a 12-16 per cent reduction in TB incidences over 9 years is achievable by killing badgers, which shows the majority vector for infection must lie elsewhere. A legal challenge by The Badger Trust is due at the end of June. Wales rejected badger 'culling' earlier this year.