Tens of thousands of enthusiasts took part in the traditional Boxing Day hunts across the Midlands, two years after the introduction of the Hunting Act.

Across the country an estimated 320,000 turned out for meets, prompting the Countryside Alliance to say the "record" UK turnout showed the two-year-old ban on the blood sport was irrelevant and to call for its repeal.

There were 314 registered national hunts nationwide, using exemptions within the Act including shooting, the use of birds of prey and laying artificial trails.

Eight hunts took place in Shropshire, seven in Worcestershire, five in Herefordshire, three in Staffordshire and three packs went out in Warwickshire.

More than 2,000 supporters welcomed the Worcester Hunt to the Raven Hotel in the centre of Droitwich.

David Palmer, joint master of the Worcester Hunt, said: "The crowds were as large as we have ever known them. Most are people who we might not see for the rest of the year, but who come out on Boxing Day to show their support for the hunt".

Ann Carding, master of the North Shropshire Hunt in Shrewsbury, said the ban had led to an increase in supporters.

"There was a crowd of over 1,600," she said. "One person told me he never thought about coming out until the ban - now he wouldn't miss the opportunity to show his opposition."

The RSPCA said: "We can't pick and choose which laws to obey."