Michael Bax served as Chairman of the hare-hunting group the Blean Beagles between 1971 and 2005 (although Baily's Hunt Directory lists him as being 'Joint Master' until as late as 2016). He also currently allows a pheasant shoot on his land. Kent Wildlife Trust seem to think there is nothing wrong with this conflict of interest as Bax does not manage the shoot himself. Allowing the shoot to take place in the first place is management in itself. He has the power to stop it and he doesn't. In 2014 and beyond all comprehension, Bax became Chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust.
It has also been discovered that Bax's business, BTF Partnership, sponsored game shoots in Kent in July 2014, three months after Bax became Chair of Kent Wildlife Trust. He also donated a 'tide flight' to an auction that would take place in the autumn/winter of that year at Greenborough Marshes. A tide flight is a bird shoot that takes place in watery areas at a time when the tide is changing and birds and ducks are at their most active. Disturbance to this area has been well-documented by both Medway Council and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). In 2016, he personally conducted an auction to raise funds for the shooting of wildlife; the largest bid being £1,600 for the shooting of ducks on the Isle of Sheppey. Many wading birds are included on the 'Birds of Conservation Concern Review' and that the Chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust would sponsor their slaughter is unthinkable! Bax's shoots will also be polluting both our environment and our bodies of water with lead. Exposure to lead is not only detrimental to the growth and reproductive rates of animals and plants, but it also has adverse effects on human health (nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive system and cardiovascular issues). BTF continue to sponsor shoots taking place in Kent in 2018.
BTF also sponsor the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt (fox-hunters). One of the Ashford Valley's terriermen were caught on camera disturbing a badger sett. A former Joint Master of the hunt, Brian Fraser, was jailed for possession of a shotgun without a licence.
Another group that BTF are sponsoring is the Southdown and Eridge Hunt. The Southdown and Eridge Hunt have a violent recent history, including a conviction for the stabbing of an anti-hunt protestor. That Bax financially supports these groups is worrying enough, but that he is also the former High Sheriff of Kent and current Chairman of both Kent Crimestoppers and the Crime Rural Advisory Group is even more disturbing!
The BTF events calendar publicises all kinds of hunting events from game shooting to the opening of the hunting season. However, what stands out to me from this publication is Woodcock shooting season. Woodcock numbers are plummeting due to hunting. The Woodcock is an amber-listed species under the 'Birds of Conservation Concern review'. A Chairman of a Wildlife Trust should be calling for a moratrium on the shooting of declining species not publicising when to shoot them!
The Brown Hare is listed as a 'priority species' on both Kent's and the UK's 'Biodiversity Action Plan', due to a 'dramatic decline in numbers', caused by agricultural practices and hunting. According to the 'Hare Preservation Trust' the UK's Brown Hare population has declined by 80% since 1880; numbers are low in Kent. Bax does not represent the views of Kent Wildlife Trust's membership who pay their fees to protect wildlife, not to slaughter it for pleasure.
Bax's association with Kent Wildlife Trust has been condemned by members, conservationists, animal welfare organisations and politicians, ranging from Chris Packham to PETA.
Working with people of all beliefs and backgrounds is fine; but that is not the issue here. Kent Wildlife Trust have appointed a person who actively goes against the charity's mission statement (the reason members provide their donations). The Chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust should be a role model. Endorsing Mr. Bax as Chairman legitimises beagling, shooting, slaughter and fox-hunting. If Bax continues to inspire and endorse bloodsports, our environment weakens. Any good that Bax does, does not give him any special right to go against the Trust's mission statement in so many ways. If an ordinary member of the public was seen by a Trust staff member doing any of the things that Bax does, I have no doubt that they would have received strong words in riposte. Bax 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.
One of Bax's business partners, Stuart Sillars of BTF Partnership is currently listed as 'Joint Master', 'Huntsman' and 'Hare Conservationist' for the Blean Beagles and has been Huntsman since 1996. He has also been photographed and caught on video as recently as 4th March 2017 with a pack of Beagles in the Kentish countryside. Richard Thomas, another of Bax's business partners at BTF Partnership, also donated a day's shoot to the same auction that Bax did. Advertising 'Expected bag 50-75 pheasants and possibly an unlucky duck'.
Another of Bax's business partners, this time Charles Tassell of Rural PLC, is propping Bax up in his role as a not just a trustee at Kent Wildlife Trust, but Vice-Chairman! George Jessel, another High Sheriff of Kent, is the ‘Resources Director’ at Rural plc. Jessel has hosted a meet for the ‘East Kent Hunt’ (fox hunters) in 2015.