Badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire to be delayed until next summer
Badger cull plans for parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire have been delayed until next summer.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has announced the decision in Parliament this afternoon.
He said a number of factors have contributed to the decision including bad weather, legal problems and new figures of badger numbers in the proposed cull zones.
There are now an estimated 4,300 badgers in the West Somerset area, up from earlier calculations of 3,000.
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For a cull to be successful, experts say 70 per cent of the badgers in each zone must be culled. Farmers are not confident these targets can be hit, due to delays and increased badger population estimates.
Mr Paterson said the companies due to carry out the culls had submitted written requests to delay the culls until next summer.
He said the Government was still entirely committed to the pilot culls, and that they would be carried out safely in 2013 because the "optimal time" for this year had passed.
"It is crucial that we get this right," he said.
Under the controversial plans, up to 100,000 badgers could be shot as the Government bids to reduce levels of bovine TB.
An e-petition against the cull, created by Queen guitarist Brian May, has attracted more than 160,000 signatures.
Rumours of a possible Government U-turn were rife late last week when Mr Paterson cancelled a series of media interviews.
Click here to view or download a 24-page House of Commons Library briefing on badger culling.
BADGER CULL PLANS DELAYED - REACTION