The full results of the second year of the badger cull should be published immediately or the government risks losing credibility and support, two animal welfare charities have claimed.
Defra secretary Liz Truss was due to meet leaders of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) on Thursday (11 December) to discuss the culls.
Ahead of the meeting, the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild called for the full disclosure of Defra’s independent audit report into year two of the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
“Two months on since the end of the second year of the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, Liz Truss must now explain why we have seen no official data on the number of badgers killed,” said Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and policy advisor at Care for the Wild.
“Or, the results of the much heralded independent audit report which she reassured MPs would prove the government remains committed to maintaining a level of independent scrutiny of the culling operation.”
Mr Dyer is also concerned that the results of the 2014 cull will not be announced until the government announces its policy for a 2015 cull – thus not allowing the BVA or other interested parties time to assess the data.
The BVA said it would continue to support the culls if the methodology for removing badgers can be shown to be humane and effective.
On Monday (8 December) it emerged that BVA council members were growing frustrated by a “lack of independent analysis this year” after the government scrapped the independent expert panel after year one of the culls.
A Defra spokesman said: “We accepted all the recommendations of the Independent Expert Panel and made improvements to training and the best practice guidance for this year’s badger culls. The monitoring of the culls is being independently audited.”
In a separate development, a report in The Guardian newspaper claimed that Defra plans to target badger cubs in year three of the four-year pilot cull next year because they are “more numerous and easier to shoot” than adults.
But scientists warned that killing cubs rather than adults would have less effect on reducing TB.
Defra said culling licences allowed culling to start any time from 1 June, based on the advice of wildlife experts.