The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for the four-year culls of badgers in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire to be completed using cage trapping and shooting only.

In light of the results from two years of culling in the two pilot areas, BVA has concluded it can no longer support the continued use of controlled shooting as part of the badger control policy.

Following a full discussion at BVA council, BVA concluded the results have not demonstrated conclusively controlled shooting can be carried out effectively and humanely based on the criteria that were set for the pilots.

BVA remains supportive of the use of badger culling as a necessary part of the comprehensive strategy for control and eradication of bovine TB.

President John Blackwell said: “BVA’s support for badger culling as part of the bovine TB eradication strategy has always been predicated on it being delivered humanely, effectively and safely. BVA supported the pilots to test the use of controlled shooting, but data from the first two years of culling has not demonstrated conclusively controlled shooting can be carried out effectively and humanely based on the criteria that were set.

“However, BVA remains convinced that if we are to tackle this disease then we need to control the infection in the wildlife population, and badger culling must form part of the comprehensive strategy for tackling bovine TB.

“We are therefore calling for the culls in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire to be completed using the tried and tested method of cage trapping and shooting, and for culling to be rolled out to other carefully selected areas using this method.

“The continuing spread of bovine TB in cattle and wildlife has an unacceptable impact on animal health and welfare, and has the potential to pose a risk to public health. In the public debate on badger culling and bovine TB, we are in danger of losing sight of the many other important control measures being applied. It is essential the next government commits to a comprehensive strategy that employs all available measures.”

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