Natural England has confirmed shotguns will continue to be used in a second wave of badger cull trials.

Despite the independent expert panel’s (IEP) lack of evidence that shotguns are humane, shooting will be permitted in the culls in Somerset and Gloucester.

The BVA also advised guns should not be allowed in the second year of the controversial cull. Humane Society International (HSI) UK states it is “appalled” at the decision to continue to use culls.

Mark Jones, vet and executive director of HSI UK, condemned the decision.

He said: “I’m appalled Defra is arrogantly ignoring the clear advice of the BVA on the basis of the IEP’s findings, by allowing badgers to be killed with shotguns this summer despite the fact there is no evidence at all to show this is humane.

“As a vet I fear targeting a moving animal in the dark by spraying it with shotgun pellets will vastly increase the chance of non-lethal injuries and prolonged suffering. In allowing shooters to continue using shotguns, Defra and Natural England are showing a blatant disregard for badger welfare.”

The news comes says after recent figures from Wales showed the lowest number of cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB since 2008.

Mr Jones added: “While Wales calmly gets on with tackling this disease using sensible, science-led measures, in England Defra’s ineffective, inhumane and unnecessary massacre of badgers is set to continue without even modest concessions to welfare.

“If Defra is prepared to ignore both the BVA and the IEP on this important issue, what else will it ignore? I’m concerned this could represent the thin end of the wedge, as Defra continues to simply cast aside any unfavourable expert and scientific opinion in pursuit of a badger cull at any cost.”

The IEP’s report stated shotguns should only be considered if their use is rigorously monitored. However, Defra has confirmed the IEP will not be reconvened this year and that cull contractors will only be monitored by Natural England for licence and best practice compliance.

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