The RSPCA has welcomed today's Government decision to delay the proposed badger cull, bus insists it should "mark an end to all cull plans" rather than a temporary reprieve.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has announced the decision to Parliament this afternoon, blaming increased badger numbers in the pilot cull zones, legal delays and bad weather.
Mr Paterson said the cull would now be delayed until next summer, but that the Government is still entirely committed to the plans.
RSPCA 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."
The controversial plans have been met with fierce opposition from protesters and an e-petition against the cull, created by Queen guitarist Brian May, has attracted more than 160,000 signatures.
The petition has prompted a full debate on the floor of the House of Commons on Thursday, which is still expected to go ahead despite this afternoon's announcement.
It will be preceded by a mass lobby of Parliament tomorrow.