Shropshire Wildlife Trust in Hunting Controversy
Earlier this month, it was brought to the League’s attention that John Brown, a Trustee of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, hosted the Wynnstay Hunt on his land. As the Wildlife Trust’s position is to protect wildlife, and it specifically prohibits fox-hunting on its land, we were hopeful that the Shropshire Wildlife Trust would condemn the actions of a trustees that could lead to the suffering of wildlife.
However, this was not the case, as a statement issued by the Trust on 22nd January 2018 said:
“John Brown has been a trustee for nearly 8 years and was invited into this position to help us gain better traction within the farming community of Shropshire. He is a well-known and respected (retired) farmer.”
In response, Jordi Casamitjana, Head of Policy and Research at the League Against Cruel Sports said:
“The Wildlife Trust’s priority should be wildlife, not to appease landowners, and if it the trust loses credibility because one of its trustees supports an activity that the Trust itself recognises as that harmful to wildlife, it will not help anyone.”
Lesley Martin of the Cheshire Monitors, who were the group that reported the hosting of the hunt, also expressed her disappointment:
“Cheshire Monitors are getting increasingly worried that about organisations that are supposedly there to promote the love and protection of wildlife but seem to have people in their midst that don’t adhere to that ethos and when questioned those organisations shy away from doing the right thing.”
John Brown is not the only Wildlife Trust trustee to spark controversy due to association with Bloodsports. The appointment of Michael Bax as the Kent Wildlife Trust Chair of Trustees in 2017 continues to be met with criticism due to his previous position as Joint Master of the Blean Beagles and apparently allowing pheasant shooting to take place on his land.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust have provided an additional statement:
"Shropshire Wildlife Trust is a habitat conservation charity, not an animal welfare organisation. We are still seeing losses in habitats and species, with agriculture being the primary cause. This means we have to work with farmers to find mutually beneficial solutions. We apply the same approach to property developers and other businesses.
We will continue to strive to restore biodiversity in Shropshire, recognising that this will occasionally bring us into conflict with other people’s deeply held beliefs. We respect these and ask that others respect ours and take a little time to understand the issues and challenges we face."