A leaked report has criticised the recent badger cull

An independent review of the government’s pilot badger cull has concluded that it was ineffective and has raised questions over the humaneness of the killings.

The scientific assessment was carried out by an independent expert panel, appointed by Defra.

The report of the panel’s findings has not yet been published but it is understood to show that the number of badgers killed fell short of the target deemed necessary and more than 5% of badgers culled took longer than five minutes to die, failing the humaneness test, the BBC reported this morning.

The leak of the report’s findings has sparked furious criticism of the government by anti-cull groups.

“David Cameron should now be taking a long hard look at this policy, which has shamed his government”

Dominic Dyer

“David Cameron should now be taking a long hard look at this policy, which has shamed his government. It was conceived for political, not practical reasons. It was carried out in an arrogant and careless fashion, which has now been officially branded a failure,” said Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and policy advisor at Care for the Wild.

The National Farmers’ Union, which supports the cull, said it could not comment on the content of the report because it had not yet been released.

However, speaking generally about bovine TB, NFU director general Andy Robertson said: “Bovine TB is a huge threat to our beef and dairy farmers and we remain committed to controlling and eradicating it. More than 30,000 cattle were killed in the first 11 months of 2013 because of the disease. It is vital that we do everything we can to tackle the disease.”

Badgers played a key role in spreading bovine TB and it was essential that any TB eradication policy must include a targeted cull of badgers in those areas where TB was rife, he added.

Defra said it looked forward to seeing the expert panel’s findings. “We knew there’d be lessons to be learned from the first year of the pilot culls which is why we’re looking forward to receiving the panel’s recommendations for improving the way they are carried out, because we need to do all we can to tackle this devastating disease,” a spokesman said.

The culls commenced in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year and were designed to gauge the effectiveness of culling as a method by which to control the spread of bovine TB, which is carried by badgers.

Defra said it did not yet know when the report would be published.