A BADGER expert has welcomed the government's announcement that it will not embark on a badger cull to combat tuberculosis in cattle.

But Tony Dean, chairman of Gloucestershire Badger Watch, said he did not think the "battle was over" yet.

He said: "Yes, I'm pleased. But I can't be thrilled because we are talking about farmers' livelihoods.

"I'm not surprised that the report has gone our way in saying no cull because all the science points to the main spread of bovine TB is from cow to cow.

"We've been saying this for many years. There have been thousands of badgers killed since the 1970s to stem the flow of TB. But the spread of TB has not been stemmed."

Mr Dean, of Stroud, who has been involved with the protection of badgers since the early seventies, went on: "The science over the last few years has proven that 80 per cent of the spread is from cow to cow."

"Farmers have got to start listening to the science. All they are listening to at the moment is the report from Sir David King - the former scientific adviser to the government - who stated that badgers should be killed."

Farmers have reportedly reacted angrily to news of the decision, which goes against the recommendations of Sir David King.

The National Farmers' Union claims bovine TB, which can be caught from badgers, has cost the industry millions.

But there is disagreement over how effective a badger cull could be, with the Independent Scientific Group (ISG), which conducted a 10 year study into culling, concluding it could not "meaningfully contribute" to controlling TB.

Sir David drew different conclusions from the research, suggesting that a cull "could make a significant contribution to the control of cattle TB in those areas of England were there is a high and persistent incidence of TB in cattle".

Areas particularly badly hit by bovine TB include South West England, South West Wales, Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

In February, a committee of MPs said badger culling should be given the go-ahead to tackle TB in cattle in areas at high risk of the disease - but only under certain conditions.