Headline data from the second badger cull trial has raised concerns on its humaneness, the BVA president has said.

Defra officially released data from the second year of the badger cull trials in bovine TB (bTB) hot spots, which found marksmen had failed to reach the minimum target in Gloucestershire.

Just 45%, or 274 badgers, were removed in Gloucestershire, against a target of between 615 and 1,091.

Somerset exceeded its minimum target with 341 badgers removed against the recommended range of 316 and 785.

Speaking after the data was revealed (December 18), BVA president John Blackwell welcomed the publication of the results, but had concerns over humaneness.

“The headline data continues to raise some concerns on humaneness and reveals a mixed a picture in terms of effectiveness, but we are unable to comment further on the results until we have had time to fully consider the data in consultation with our members.

“We appreciate the fact that Defra has not released this data alongside a decision on the continued delivery of culling in the pilot areas using controlled shooting or the further roll-out of the policy and we look forward to further consultation on this before Defra decides future policy.

“BVA’s position on bTB supports the use of targeted, humane badger culling in areas where there is a significant wildlife reservoir as part of the comprehensive approach to tackling the disease. But we have consistently made it clear we can only support badger culling if the method used is humane, safe and effective and that is why we called for controlled shooting to be tested and critically evaluated against these criteria.”

Defra secretary of state Elizabeth Truss also unveiled a biosecurity action plan, which aims to help farmers reduce the risk of the deadly disease.

BVA will hold a joint meeting of its veterinary policy group and ethics and welfare group to discuss the data in detail before making policy recommendations to BVA Council.

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