MPs will today urge the Government to stop badger culls and refrain from approving new ones.
Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset “decisively failed” against Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) criteria, a cross-party group of MPs say in a motion to be debated in the Commons.
They have also criticised the costs of policing the culls and the lack of debate and a vote in Parliament to extend the trials.
The pilot culls were due to run for six weeks, with the aim of killing 70 per cent of badgers in each area, but both schemes were extended after initial figures suggested 58 per cent of badgers were eradicated in Somerset and 30 per cent in Gloucestershire.
Alternative plans to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle should be considered while the culls are halted, the MPs add.
The Government plans to roll out the culls more widely in England if it can be done effectively, safely and humanely.
But a leaked review by independent experts assessing the pilot schemes reportedly found the number of badgers being killed in each area was much lower than the level needed to have a beneficial impact on TB outbreaks in herds.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson previously insisted badgers had ”moved the goalposts” and made a cull more difficult.
He has also suggested gassing badgers is a possibility but only if evidence could prove it was humane and effective.
Contraception for badgers is also set to be included in the Government’s blueprint to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle, along with vaccines.
Conservative Anne Main (St Albans), who will lead the backbench business debate in the Commons, said: “I am asking the Government to pause, reflect and adapt its policy for tackling bovine TB.
“The pilot culls have failed on all of the Government1s own criteria, including humaneness.
“I do not believe the Government should allow more licences to be granted until members have considered, debated, and voted on the motion before the House.”
Activist and Queen guitarist Brian May, who is the founder of Save Me and Team Badger, added it was time to abandon the “badger cull shambles”.
He called for a vaccination of badgers and other wildlife alongside prioritising work to licence a cattle vaccine.
The full text of the motion tabled by Mrs Main, and supported by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Labour’s Barry Sheerman and Lib Dem Adrian Sanders, says: “That this House believes that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have decisively failed against the criteria set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in guidance to Natural England for licensing of the culls, which stipulated that 70 per cent of the badger population should be culled within a six-week period; notes that the costs of policing, additional implementation and monitoring, and the resort to more expensive cage-and-trap methods over an extended period have substantially increased the cost of the culls, and strengthened the financial case for vaccination; regrets that the decision to extend the original culls has not been subject to any debate or vote in Parliament; further regrets that the Independent Expert Panel will only assess the humaneness, safety and effectiveness of the original six-week period and not the extended cull period; and urges the Government to halt the existing culls and granting of any further licences, pending development of alternative strategies to eradicate bovine TB and promote a healthy badger population.”