Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather to support Boxing Day hunts, reigniting the row over whether fox hunting should be legal.
Supporters of fox hunting, who say they are expecting more than 250,000 people to turn out for Boxing Day events, called for the scrapping of the Hunting Act, which forbids the hunting of animals such as foxes with dogs.
But the League Against Cruel Sports said polling showed the opposition to fox hunting remained high, with 84% of the 1,986 people quizzed in an Ipsos MORI survey saying it should not be made legal again.
The anti-blood sports charity said polling over time showed opposition to repealing the ban had risen steadily, and had also increased to 82% in rural areas, up from 69% four years ago.
League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Eduardo Goncalves said: “The Boxing Day hunts are portrayed as a glorious pageant taking place in front of a huge number of people who support them, but the truth is very different.
“The fact is 84% of the public do not want fox hunting made legal.
“Just because families might venture out on Boxing Day to see the hunt, stroke the dogs or watch the horses, doesn’t mean they support repealing a law to enable the hunt to chase and kill wild animals with their dogs for sport.”
Drag hunting, where hounds are trained to follow an artificial trail, is legal, but anti-hunt campaigners claim illegal hunting of foxes continues.
The Countryside Alliance said nobody connected to one of the more than 300 hunts in England and Wales registered with Council of Hunting Associations had been convicted of hunting offences in the past two years.
Since the Act was brought in in 2005, 94% of the 423 people successful prosecuted under the Act were for casual hunting or poaching and had nothing to do with registered hunts, the organisation said.
The Countryside Alliance also said the rate of successful prosecutions associated with registered hunts was falling and raised concerns about the cost to the taxpayer of pursuing cases.
Chief executive Tim Bonner said: “Our figures demonstrate unequivocally that the Hunting Act lies in tatters.
“The problem with the Act is that over the past two years all those prosecuted under the Act have had nothing to do with ‘hunts’.
“The law that was supposed to have got rid of hunts is now being used as little more than a vehicle to harass them,” he added.