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UK halts badger kill after study of TB

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8:56pm, November 23, 2003

The British government this month ended the controversial practice of killing badgers on farms whenever any of the cattle there have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Badgers in Great Britain have been known to carry TB and experiments have shown they can transmit it to cattle, but whether cows often catch the disease from badgers outside the laboratory has proven controversial. Unpasteurized milk from sick cattle can then give TB to people, so for more than 2 decades, health authorities have had local badgers killed if a cow develops TB.

Badger fans objected, and in 1998 the government set up a trial of three alternative approaches: leaving badgers alone; culling them in reaction to detection of TB, which is the current practice; or proactively culling to keep badger numbers low even when TB hasn't been detected. The trial included farmland in 10 locations around England.

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