The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has voiced concerns for the welfare of badgers who may be trapped in cages for long periods of time in cull areas in England.

Meanwhile the RSPCA is demanding a hlat to culling during the heatwave.

With the current heatwave showing no signs of abating, there are reports that badgers may be trapped with no access to water until the cages are checked, which may not be until the following day.

Natural England, the government advisory body that issues cull licences, has issued a best practice guide that stipulates that culling should be as humane as possible with measures taken to mitigate against adverse weather conditions. However, traps are routinely set during the day and then checked the following morning, meaning that a badger may be in a cage for over 12 hours.

In past consultation responses on Bovine Tuberculosis and badger control, BVA has called for stronger guidance to ensure that cages are checked regularly throughout the day, especially in the morning, and for culling processes to operate as humanely as possible with special consideration for badgers trapped in inclement weather.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “There are obvious welfare concerns if badgers are being trapped in extreme temperatures with no access to water for long periods of time. We would urge Natural England and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to review what is happening currently in cull areas and take mitigating action if required while the heatwave continues.”

The RSPCA has released a statement that reads:

“We have long been calling for this inhumane and ineffective cull to be scrapped. The soaring temperatures increase the welfare issues around the cull and we would support calls for an immediate halt to trapping and a cancellation of licences to extend the cull.

"The RSPCA agrees action is needed to deal with bovine TB and we are concerned about the welfare of cattle as well as that of badgers. However, we do not believe culling badgers is an effective way to prevent TB.

“It’s high time for an end to the badger cull and for scarce funds to be spent instead on alternative methods, such as stricter controls on the movement of cattle, increased levels of cattle testing over a wider area, improved biosecurity, and vaccination of both badgers and cattle to stop the spread of this devastating disease.”