STATEMENT

Tuesday 28th March 2017

Considerable concern has been expressed on social media and in the press about the association between Mike Bax, the Chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust, and his past role as Master of the Blean Beagles.

Mike Bax has been a member of Kent Wildlife Trust for nearly 30 years and chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust for three. He has a deep interest in wildlife matters and manages his own farm with wildlife foremost in mind.
His active involvement with Blean Beagles is historic; he has had no role in the Beagle’s affairs since 2005, although he and others were referred to as Joint or Honorary Masters for some years after this. The Blean Beagles are run by a committee with which he has no involvement, nor is he a subscriber.

Pursuing live quarry with dogs is against the law (The Hunting Act 2004) and all staff and trustees recognise and uphold requirements of the Act. Kent Wildlife Trust does not allow field sports on Kent Wildlife Trust’s Reserves, the very few exceptions being where others have control of shooting rights, and coarse fishing. We do not promote the view that field sports are good for wildlife. Other than this, the Trust maintains a neutral position on field sports; we are neither for nor against them and we do not campaign for either view. This is the position held by Wildlife Trusts across the country.

The Trust’s neutrality on field sports is fundamental to what we do – it enables us to talk with respect to people of all opinions and backgrounds and with a diversity of views with regard to many aspects of countryside and wildlife practices. This helps us create a range of conservation opportunities, which is vital as the pressure on wildlife continues to increase. We hope that our long-held neutral position on field sports will allow many people, who might not always come together, to unite under the common cause of working to stabilise nature, which is currently in crisis.

Mike Bax’s role as Chair of Trustees is a voluntary role. As chairman and lead for the organisation Mike is recognised in the county and widely respected for his understanding of land management issues and for his wider professional and voluntary activities. The contribution he has made to our ability to reach out to the land-managing community and gain real wins for wildlife is considerable.

Kent Wildlife Trust’s Council of Trustees consists of volunteers from a range of backgrounds representing financial and legal skills, ecologists, scientists, community workers, and others; they are all elected from the membership and all have a deep commitment to Kent’s wildlife and the Trust. Trustees are required by law to uphold the interests and the objectives of the charity when making decisions in Council meetings. In a charity it is the body of Trustees, not a single Chairman who determine the detail of policy.

Kent Wildlife Trust has a broad spectrum of members and we welcome all who believe that we need to work together to ensure that we maintain thriving natural places throughout the countryside. We value every member and gain strength from the many views of the countryside they offer.

What is important is that the Trust continues to work with a broad range of groups, businesses, and individuals who all, in very different ways, make demands on our natural systems. The role of the Trust is to bring together all of these views and to create policy and strategy which is designed to strengthen and restore these systems which so desperately need our help.