LONDON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A British government department says its decision on whether to order a cull of badgers to combat cattle tuberculosis will be delayed,
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had said it would to announce its policy decision around the end of this month, but now says it could come as late as May, raising doubts about whether a cull could be conducted this year at all, the BBC reported Friday.
A source told the BBC that DEFRA did not want to "mess up" again after abandoning its plans to sell some public forests, a proposal it abandoned Thursday in the face of heavy public opposition.
"They've messed up on forests -- they don't want another one," the source said.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, in announcing the about-face on plans to transfer 640,000 acres of state-owned woodland in England into private management, acknowledged the government had "got this one wrong."
Opponents of the badger cull say more frequent testing of cattle and curbs on their movement are tackling the disease and that culling is unnecessary.
A fall in the number of cattle TB cases has been recorded from 2008 to 2010, authorities said.
"Plainly, what's happened does demonstrate that the disease can be controlled without the necessity of killing wildlife," Badger Trust spokesman Jack Reedy said.