GLOUCESTERSHIRE, England, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A campaign to reduce the badger population in England has been called off ahead of schedule, with critics saying it failed to meet its goal.
The government initially granted a shoot-on-sight permit for badger hunters in Gloucester to last for six weeks. It was later extended by an additional eight weeks, though environmentalists said the program was ultimately unsuccessful and should be abandoned, the BBC reported.
The additional eight-week period was called off after five weeks, officials said.
The relative success of the effort, known as a cull, won't be known until Monday when officials release the precise number of badgers killed.
Drew Pratton from the environmental group Stop the Cull said he was "ecstatic" the government called off open season on badgers.
"Free shooting of badgers has never been done before in this country and this was the trial of it," he said. "Scientifically it didn't work in the first place which is why we decided to stop it happening -- hopefully we've proved that. I'm ecstatic the cull's over."
Government ministers opened up badger hunting to reduce the population. Badgers are suspected of carrying an animal strain of the disease tuberculosis, which can infect cattle populations.