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Petition calls for Kent Wildlife Trust chief Michael Bax to resign

Campaigners are calling for the resignation of a wildlife boss who ran a hare hunt for more than 30 years - because he still allows hunting on his land.

More than 100,000 people - around 30,000 of whom are UK-based - have signed a petition calling on Michael Bax to step down from his role as chairman of the Kent Wildlife Trust.

It comes after it emerged he was a member of the Blean Beagles from 1971 to 2005. He served as joint master from 1995 to 2005.

Michael Bax is said to allow pheasant shooting on his farm
Michael Bax is said to allow pheasant shooting on his farm

It has also been revealed the animal protection chief allows pheasant shooting on his farm.

Tom Fitton, who set up the petition and is a member of the wildlife trust, said Mr Bax was not a “fit and proper person” to be running the organisation.

He said: "The brown hare is an endangered species across the UK and Mr Bax does not represent the views of Kent Wildlife Trust's membership who pay their fees to protect wildlife, not slaughter it for pleasure.

"Mr Bax is damaging the reputation of not just Kent Wildlife Trust, but the wildlife trusts in general.

"He is not a fit and proper person to be running a wildlife conservation charity and we call for Kent Wildlife Trust to cut their ties with him immediately.”

He added: ''I am a member of the trust and I saw a few rumours going round on social media about Mr Bax's past and I did a bit of digging.

"I felt a mixture of shock and disbelief when I found out, it just didn't make sense to me at all.

''There is a feeling of betrayal among members, how can we ask members of the public to change their behaviour when our chairman has engaged in activities like that.”

Mr Bax is also a director of Canterbury-based commercial property agent BTF Partnership and of agricultural pressure group Rural plc Kent.

Responding to the petition, he said he understood hare hunting was an “emotive issue”.

Michael Bax. Picture: SWNS.com
Michael Bax. Picture: SWNS.com

He said: ''Having lived all my life in the Kent countryside I grew up with beagling, actively involved until 1995 and one of seven joint Masters of the Blean Beagles until 2005.

''While hunting hares with beagles is now consigned to history, there are still many in the countryside who participate in managed field sports and hunt within the act.

''I understand that it is an emotive issue. We need to work together if we are to reverse the crisis for wildlife in the countryside.''

When asked about the petition, the trust said that it “had to remain neutral”.

Chief executive John Bennett said: "We recognise the level of concern reflected in the scale of the response to this petition.

"In order to work with the widest possible community we remain neutral on the personal positions of our 30,000 members, 1,056 volunteers and trustees with regards to hunting, fishing and field sports.

"We don't allow hunting on our nature reserves where we have control of the shooting rights.

“Wildlife Trusts like ourselves do raise concerns and challenge aspects of field sports and hunting where they have a damaging impact on the conservation of the county's populations of wild animals and plants."

Mr Bennett added: "Mike Bax's commitment to the Trust over 30 years has proved invaluable in helping us to nurture these relations, which over the last five years has seen us manage and advise on nearly 31,000 acres of land across Kent for the benefit of wildlife and the public."

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