The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling for the government to stop the use of controlled shooting in badger culls intended to help eradicate bovine TB (bTB).

The government has issued 11 new licences for badger culling which have prompted the BVA to ask for only cage trapping and shooting to be licensed.

The BVA president Gudrun Ravetz said: “Today’s announcement sees 11 new licences issued and, while BVA supports badger culling as part of a comprehensive strategy for tackling bovine TB, we will continue to call on the Government to use the targeted and humane method of cage trapping and shooting only - rather than the current method of controlled shooting."

A number of measures have been announced as part of the government’s strategy to eradicate bTB in England. While the BVA has welcomed the re-commencement of the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme and the new TB Advisory Service for farmers, the organisation is demanding greater accuracy in badger population figures.

"We are concerned that government policy seems to have moved away from the original, evidence-based proposal of a six-week time limit for badger control within the open season, which enables an intensive, coordinated and effective operation in order to secure optimum disease control benefits," said Mr Ravetz.

“In terms of numbers, it is clear that badger population estimates have previously demonstrated considerable uncertainty and inprecision. It is critical that as accurate as possible population estimates, using an evidence-based methodology, are obtained and made openly available.We would urge clarity over cull timeframes, numbers and mid-cull review methodology to ensure that the progress made, enabling the application for Officially TB Free status, is not undermined.”