Anti-cull campaigners welcome 'the right result'
Campaigners who battled plans for a badger cull have welcomed the reprieve granted yesterday, but signalled they will ratchet up the pressure for a permanent ban.
Animal welfare groups said the British public simply did not support mass shooting of badgers and the Government should focus their actions to counter bovine TB on vaccination instead.
Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said the postponement was "the right result for the wrong reasons".
He added: "While we welcome the reprieve for badgers through the Government's decision not to go ahead with the cull this year, it is imperative that this is not simply a delay, but a definite end to the planned cull.
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"At the moment, badgers are on death row for nine months. "We need the Government to change their policy."
The organisation played a central role in the campaign against the cull as a member of the Team Badger coalition.
Mr Duckworth said as well as an array of eminent scientists, public opinion was on their side with 160,000 people signing an e-petition forcing a debate in the House of Commons tomorrow.
A recent poll commissioned by the league also found 53% of people surveyed would be less likely to vote for their MP if they had supported the cull.
Jack Reedy, of the Badger Trust, hit out at the Government over the fiasco, saying: "Farmers and landowners have been sadly deluded into believing in, and paying for, the proposed unholy mess based on a 40-year-old prejudice impervious to science."
He accused environment secretary Owen Paterson of a "shameful" series of evasions and errors in "seeking to justify the killing of badgers."
There was no proof that the badger population had increased in many years since the last estimate in 1997, said Mr Reedy.
He added: "Bovine TB is not currently spreading.
"In fact, the number of cattle lost, and compensated for, has been falling since 2008."
The RSPCA welcomed the news of a delay, saying it was "good news for badgers, cows, dairy farmers and animal lovers alike".
Chief executive Gavin Grant said: "Hopefully it marks the beginning of the end for these unscientific, foolish and cruel plans to cull badgers."
Humane Society International also signalled its relief, with executive director Mark Jones saying: "This decision finally reflects the overwhelming scientific, conservation and public opposition to what would have been a disastrous policy for badgers and farmers alike."
"We have a vital time window to turn this temporary reprieve into a permanent policy, but for now at least the badgers are safe."