OPTIMISTIC hunt supporters still believe there will be a repeal of the controversial act that outlawed hunting five years ago.

But Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to postpone a vote on the ban ‘indefinitely’ because of the country’s economic concerns.

Last year’s hunts were excitedly billed by enthusiasts as the last ones before the repeal of the ban.

However, many hunt supporters believe they will have to be patient in their bid to get the Hunting Act overturned.

“We’re obviously hoping for a repeal and it’s something we will work towards, but understandably with the global recession there are so many important things that this government will get on with so we just have to wait our turn,” said Clive Richardson, master of the hounds with the Vale of Lune Harriers.

Roger Westmoreland, master of the hounds with Coniston Foxhounds, said: “The repeal will definitely come but I think we have got to put the country first and you can’t expect the government to just dive in and give hunting a sporting priority. It’s just a question of being patient.”

But Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Hunters facing court cases, increasing numbers of convictions, public revulsion at the slaughter of wildlife and a House of Commons firmly against a repeal of the Hunting Act send a strong message to the hunting community that illegal hunting will not be tolerated and repeal is nothing but a pipe dream.

“We have a majority of 66 MPs opposing repeal. Public support is very strongly in our favour, and Members of Parliament realise that.

"We are feeling more positive than we have for a very long time and we are confident that the Hunting Act won’t face any real threat during this Parliament.”

More than 1,000 people braved freezing conditions for this year’s Vale of Lune Harriers hunt from the Longlands Hotel, Tewitfield, on Monday.

But with treacherous conditions, the horses were put away early and the dogs were taken for a walk instead.

Coniston Foxhound’s Boxing Day hunt was cancelled on Monday, but weather permitting their New Year’s Day hunt is still scheduled for 9am on Saturday, meeting at the Drunken Duck in Ambleside.