To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the oral answer to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion of 9 January 2014, on badger culls, if he will make it his policy to extend the remit of the Independent Panel to cover and report on all extensions of badger cull pilots; what the rationale has been to date for limiting the Independent Panel's remit to the first six weeks of the culls; and if he will make a statement.
During the six-week periods in each cull area, a structured programme of observations and post-mortems was implemented by trained teams to build a robust evidence base that will inform conclusions about the humaneness of controlled shooting. This programme of carrying out the required number of field observations and post-mortem examinations was completed during the six-week period, as planned, and in accordance with the protocols agreed with the Independent Expert Panel in advance of the pilot culls commencing.
Careful consideration was given to whether there was a need to continue this monitoring during the extension periods, and the chair of the independent panel was consulted. It was concluded that continuing observations beyond the required 60 and associated 120 post-mortems would add little to the statistical robustness of the data gathered during the planned six weeks of the humaneness study.
It should be noted that monitoring by Natural England to ensure that cull companies complied with the licence conditions and best practice guidance continued through the extension periods. A post-mortem capability was maintained to support any investigations if necessary.
The panel will also review the efficacy of the pilot culls at the end of the six-week period as planned.