Leaked minutes from a meeting of the BVAs ethics and welfare group (EWG) show the ‘fragile consensus’ within the organisation over the policy is coming under considerable pressure.
The minutes suggest ‘many members of EWG simply no longer agreed that BVA should be continuing to support the culls in the absence of independent analysis of results’.
They also highlight concerns that Defra had not supplied an update on progress in this year’s pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset pilot culls, including implementing the Independent Expert Panel’s recommendations for making improvements this year.
Some members of the group felt their views had not been represented in public by the BVA.
Responding to press reports on the leaked minutes BVA president John Blackwell said the association still ‘supports the targeted and humane use of badger culling’ as part of a comprehensive package of measures to tackle bTB.
“But we have made it clear that we cannot continue to support the use of controlled shooting to deliver culling unless it can be demonstrated that it can be delivered humanely, effectively and safely,” he said.
“We have also continued to call on the Secretary of State to make provision for independent analysis of the results. It is no secret that some of our members are frustrated by the lack of independent analysis this year and we are disappointed that it has not been put in place to give confidence to our members and the wider public.”
He said the BVA Council ‘decided to continue to support year two of the pilot culls’, although he recognised ‘that this was a fragile consensus’.
“However, we have made it very clear to Defra that our ongoing support should not be taken for granted and that we will make our own assessment of the data when it is published,” mr Blackwell said.
"We would encourage Defra to make the data available as soon as possible so that we can analyse in detail whether the use of controlled shooting in the second year of the pilots has been both humane and effective.”
Defra Ministers have stressed the Independent Expert Panel, which monitored the two pilot culls in 2013 was only ever meant to be in place for one year.