Badger cull postponed until next summer
It has been announced today (23 October) that the badger cull is to be delayed until next year by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) secretary Owen Paterson.
The government's aim was to cull several thousand badgers over a period of six years, in order to help control bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which is spread by the wild animals.
There have been numerous protests and legal battles against the cull, planned for pilot this autumn in Gloucestershire and Somerset, including an e-petition that attracted more than 160,000 signatures.
Mr Paterson said this is not the best time of year to go ahead and, in a statement to the House of Commons, said that the cull should have started earlier this summer, but had been delayed due to Olympics, Paralympics and then bad weather.
Government data shows that if more than 70 per cent of badgers in an area are eradicated, the disease could be slowed slightly, however, less than 70 per cent could cause an increase in bTB.
Mr Paterson said: "It would be wrong to go ahead if those on the ground cannot be confident of removing at least 70 per cent of the population."
He added: "By starting the pilots next summer, we can build on the work that's already been done and ensure that the cull will conform to the scientific criteria and the evidence base."
Numerous organisations, including the BVA, and National Farmers Union (NFU) and RSPCA have backed the decision to postpone the cull; however, whilst some welcome the fact that there has not been a u-turn on the policy, others say this must not be a temporary reprieve - but must mark an end to the plans.
Click here to read the statement.