Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has announced the government will delay its planned cull of badgers until next year.

Mr Paterson outlined the reasons for the delay, which include the postponement caused by the Olympics and Paralympics as well as recent bad weather. The National Farmers Union had also contacted him requesting a delay due to new survey results showing estimated badger populations to be a lot higher than previously thought.

As it is believed that 70% of the badger population in the selected areas of the south-west of England would need to be culled in order to effectively stop the disease bovine tuberculosis, a larger population would require a more costly culling process.

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NFU President Peter Kendall appreciated the disappointment the delay would cause to many but emphasised the importance of being ‘confident of achieving the numbers needed for disease reduction’. Acknowledging that this has been a tough year for farmers, Mr Kendall announced his pride at their resilience in the face of ‘challenge after challenge’ and stressed the significance of the cull: ‘it has been about the battle to get on top of the TB on our farms that strikes at the very heart of our beef and dairy herds’.

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