HUNTS in Wiltshire were defiant on the first Boxing Day since the Hunting Act came into force.

The Countryside Alliance said hundreds of thousands of people came out to support local hunts as a new poll showed only a third of people think the new legislation is working.

The survey, carried out for the Countryside Alliance, asked: "From what you know do you think the Hunting Act is working? Is it preventing hunting of wild mammals with dogs?"

Nearly three-fifths (59 per cent) of the 1,004 respondents said no, 34 per cent said yes, while seven per cent did not know.

Jo Aldridge, a spokeswoman for the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt, which covers south Gloucestershire and north Wiltshire, said: "For the last 15 years I've been asked if this will be the last Boxing Day meet. It never has been and it is certainly not going to be this year.

"We will go on hunting and do what it takes to get this unworkable law overturned."

Anti-hunt campaigner Josey Sharrad, a spokeswoman for the League Against Cruel Sports said: "We have no problems with people enjoying a day out riding in the countryside, following an artificially-laid trail, or exercising dogs. But we don't want wild animals to suffer for their entertainment. Sadly, some hunters seem to think they can ignore the law."

The Vale Of The White Horse hunt was also due to meet yesterday at Cirencester Park, and tomorrow at Charlton Park near Malmesbury.