Bumper crowds turned out for Boxing Day hunts across the country with local events also being well supported.
Coakham Blood Hounds met at the Eight Bells at Jevington and members of the East Sussex and Romney Marsh staged their annual meet in Battle.
Nationally, hunts across England and Wales welcomed more than quarter of a million people, on foot and on horseback, to their Boxing Day meets and organisers said it showed support for hunting is as strong as ever, despite nine years of what they called the ‘failed and illiberal’ Hunting Act.
Hunt master Capt Ian Farquhar said, “Once again we were delighted by the tremendous support from the thousands of people who turned out to show their support for the hounds and horses and to support the farmers who are the backbone of the countryside.
“We met in the hope that common sense will prevail.”
Another hunt master Brian Hughes said, “Since 2010 our very popular Boxing Day meet has grown and grown in support.
“Surely with time the Government has to see that the ban is bad legislation and common sense will prevail.
“People think that hunting is elitist. We met today at Blackmill in the Labour heartlands and our supporters came from all backgrounds. This shows that politicians of all colours need to take notice or they will lose the rural vote.”
And joint-master Nessie Lambert said, “Nothing beats the support we have from the local community. It is always lovely to see the town packed again to welcome the hounds on Boxing Day.
“We are very lucky to have so much help throughout the year from farmers and supporters but today is the day on which everyone comes out to cheer the hounds and hunt staff.”
The Hunting Act 2004 banned the hunting of wild mammals, notably foxes, deer, hares and mink, with dogs in England and Wales and came into force on February 18 2005.
Opponents of the bill include the Countryside Alliance, Prince Charles and the National Farmers Union. Those in favour of the bill are the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, League Against Cruel Sports, Conservatives against Fox Hunting and the Hunt Saboteurs Association.