The RSPCA said it was “delighted” that plans for the cull had been postponed, but the British Veterinary Association insisted it must still go ahead.
Peter Jones, BVA president, said the news that the government will delay the cull until next summer at the earliest was a “severe blow” to vets and farmers who are battling bovine tuberculosis on a daily basis.
“We very much hope this will not reflect a change in policy,” he added. “As we get later in the season we must recognise that it becomes less likely for a cull to be delivered effectively and so it could make sense to delay until next year.
“It is important to note that the speculation is that the cull is being delayed due to questions surrounding the logistics of delivery. The science has not changed.
“Scientists agree that culling badgers does reduce the levels of infection in cattle herds, and we know that no country has dealt with bovine TB without tackling the disease in wildlife.”
But RSPCA Chief executive Gavin Grant said postponing the cull was “good news for badgers, cows, dairy farmers and animal lovers alike”.
“Hopefully it marks the beginning of the end for these unscientific, foolish and cruel plans to cull badgers. We welcome this postponement, but this must not be a temporary reprieve, but must mark an end to all cull plans.
“Science, the public and MPs from all parties had said very clearly that a cull is no answer to bovine TB.
“The RSPCA stands ready to play a full part working with farmers, land owners, Government and conservationists to move forward rapidly and constructively to tackle this dire disease in cattle and wildlife.”
Anti-cull campaigners, led by Queen guitarist Brian May, have been pushing for the UK government to follow the Welsh government which began a five-year vaccination program of badgers in Wales.
They have also been pressuring the government to increase its efforts for the introduction of a cattle vaccination, as well as increased levels of testing, improved farm biosecurity and the introduction of stricter cattle movement controls. However, DEFRA claims that a vaccine to help control TB in the future remains “many years away”.
If you are a livestock farmer affected by the cull postponement and you’d like to comment, you can contact news reporter Phil Case on telephone number 020 8652 4905 or email Philip Case
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