The Hunting Ban 15 years on: did it change anything?

The Hunting Act 2004 was supposed to put an end to hunting. When it came into force - 18 February 2005 - it outlawed the killing of wild animals with packs of dogs.

Depending on your point of view, it was a sad end to an ancient tradition, or a long-overdue protection for wild animals. But perhaps, it was neither.

Foxes are still dying in the jaws of foxhounds. The Act allows trail hunting: following a fake scent with a pack of hounds. But hounds can get confused and follow the scent of a live fox by mistake.

The Beaufort Hunt has hundreds of members, of all ages. Credit: ITV West Country

But how do you tell an accident from a crime? The Bath Hunt Sabateurs accuse local hunts - including the Beaufort, the largest and most famous of the West Country's fox hunts - of deliberately chasing and killing foxes, and sometimes not even laying a fake trail.

Since the Hunting Act came into force, 378 people have been prosecuted under it, though none were from the Beaufort.

Many anti-hunt campaigners, including the League Against Cruel Sports, want the ban strengthened. They say hunts are using trail hunting as a smokescreen for real hunting, a claim strongly denied by the Beaufort:

Prince Charles was a keen member of the Beaufort before the ban. Credit: PA

Hunt saboteur groups go out every weekend to try and disrupt local hunts. Both sides accuse the other of intimidation, violence and criminal damage.

The Hunting Act 2004 was supposed to find a compromise between animal welfare and rural tradition, to put an end to the hunting war. 15 years on, it has done nothing of the sort.