When 21 people so far have been convicted under the Hunting Act, with two recently pleading guilty to a charge of illegal fox hunting, and an Early Day Motion has been put before Parliament concerning the widespread breaches of the Act and calling for tougher action to enforce it, can the Countryside Alliance expect live animal hunting to survive?

They claim that almost 6,000 people attended the Avon Vale Hunt's Boxing Day meet, but in a county with a population of 564,000 or more, this is hardly significant.

The majority of the population supports the Hunting Act, which extends the legislation of the past 174 years banning infliction of suffering or animals for sport.

This October, two Avon Vale Hunt staff were convicted of theft of a video camera from a monitor, who had started filming what she reasonably believed to be hounds hunting illegally through scrubland. Since then, the judgement in the Minehead Harriers case has made it clear that claiming to trail hunt and allowing hounds to chase a wild animal is an offence.

Accidental hunting is preventable, with the hunt staff either not keeping the hounds under control, or not calling them off when they start on a fox turning up. More thorough monitoring, with records kept of the frequency of accidents and more thorough policing and case preparations is likely to produce more prosecutions, making the random trailing of fox body fluid where foxes are likely to be put up legally questionable.

In Cheshire this Boxing Day, the Cheshire Forest Foxhounds meet attracted 50 riders and the Mid Cheshire Farmers Drag Hunt attracted 140. Clearly, the hunting down of an animal is not necessary from the point of view of most who hunt to ride. If the foxhound packs are accepted by the rural community, why does Wiltshire have a thriving League Against Cruel Sports support group?

Katherine Watson, Rushton Drive, Stockport