The postponed badger cull could mean two pilot schemes are moved to alternative destinations, a Government minister has said.
West Somerset and West Gloucestershire had been areas licensed by ministers to carry out culling to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, which is spread by badgers and is rife in the South West.
The pilots, due to start last November, were delayed by a year, after the National Farmers' Union (NFU) – which is organising the plan – said there were more badgers in the area than expected, leading to fears culls would be unsuccessful.
Farming Minister David Heath yesterday told ITV Westcountry the delay may lead to different areas being chosen instead. He said: "Whether that (the application to cull) will be in the same areas, it very possibly could be, or whether that will be in different areas, that will be for them (the NFU) to decide in due course.
"We will wait to hear from the NFU and the farmers involved as to whether they want to stick to their original plans or want to change them – that's their decision."
The NFU has said all options remain open for potential sites, with a cull unlikely to take place until the autumn. It opens the possibility of marksmen being deployed to kill free-running badgers in Devon and Cornwall, where farmers have seen their herds devastated at the hands of the disease.