This follows growing public, scientific and political opposition to the plans to shoot badgers. A record number of signatures were gathered against the badger cull 2012 in the Number 10 e-petition in just two weeks. This number has now grown to nearly 160,000 and has prompted a full debate on the floor of the House of Commons on Thursday 25th October. This will still go ahead and will be preceded by a mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 24thOctober.
Chief executive Gavin Grant said: “This is 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.”
More than 70% of badgers, most of them healthy, would have been killed in the two pilot zones and then across large areas of the countryside despite an independent 10 year scientific study showing a badger cull would have been of little help to controlling TB in cattle and even suggest that it could make it worse in some areas.
The research, which was undertaken by the Independent Scientific Group, took nearly a decade, cost approximately £50 million and the lives of 11,000 badgers. It concluded ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.
The Stop the Cull/Team Badger campaign has been pushing for the UK Government to follow the Welsh Government which, using the same scientific evidence as Defra, has begun a five year vaccination program of badgers in Wales.
Campaigners have also called on Government to implement a vaccination programme for badgers and cows along with increased levels of testing, improved farm biosecurity and the introduction of stricter controls on the movement of cattle rather than culling 70% of the badger population, the vast majority of which are disease free. The RSPCA pledged to work with farmers and all those dealing with the challenge of bovine TB, working towards the rapid vaccination of badgers and approval of an appropriate vaccination for cattle.