ASPCA board member shot sitting ducks

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:

NEW YORK, N.Y.––Three months after allegedly
shotgunning a flock of sitting ducks at a private hunting club in
a fit of pique, New York Daily News and U.S. News & World
Report chief executive officer Fred Drasner has apparently quietly
left the American SPCA board of directors, with no public
apology and––perhaps protected by his media clout––no public
statement from ASPCA president Roger Caras.
Neither did other New York animal protection groups
openly object, after the duck killing, to Drasner’s presence on
the 20-member board of the oldest U.S. humane society.
The ASPCA did not respond to either A N I M A L
PEOPLE or Chicago Animal Rights Coalition president Steve
Hindi when asked to clarify Drasner’s board status, including
the circumstances of his departure if as we were unofficially
informed he did depart.

On order of the Illinois Supreme Court, Hindi had
just been released on an appeal bond from the McHenry County
Jail in Woodstock, Illinois, after serving five weeks of a fivemonth
sentence for contempt of court. Hindi was charged with
contempt for demonstrating against bird shooting at the now
defunct Woodstock Hunt Club, an institution similar to
Drasner’s club, after judge James Franz ordered him to cease
using a paraglider to coax flocks of Canada geese to stay
beyond range of club gunners.
Even if Hindi wins an appeal to the Illinois Supreme
Court, based on alleged misadvice from an attorney, he still
faces multiple related charges for alleged hunter harassment.
What happened
The New York Post of December 22, 1997 carried the
headline “Drasner in duck pond massacre” across the whole top
of page 6, where it occupied the entire “Page Six” column by
Richard Johnson, with Jeane MacIntosh and Sean Gannon.
Word of the killings reached ANIMAL PEOPLE,
however, only after a former ASPCA insider sent us the Post
article in March––apparently thinking Drasner still had his
board seat.
An offended fellow member of the private hunting
club where the killing occurred, at Millbrook, New York, supplied
details of the duck massacre to another member of the
Post “Page Six” team, Jared Paul Stern. Although the “Page
Six” item did not so specify, the described behavior of the
ducks suggests they were captive-reared: unlike most wild
ducks, who would fly away from a line of gunners, they
remained at a nearby pond.
“The tough-talking Drasner is an avid gun enthusiast
who hunts often and is licensed to carry a handgun,” the Post
Drasner’s own Daily News seems to keep those proclivities
quiet. For instance, the Post continued, “In October
(1997), the Daily News conspicuously left his name off a list of
high-profile pistol packers. Last June,” the Post a d d e d ,
“Drasner and his Daily News partner Mort Zuckerman were
reportedly trying to acquire gun magazine titles from Petersen
On December 21, 1997, the witness said, “Fred
couldn’t hit a thing. Off to the side, there were about 40 ducks
swimming peacefully. He got so frustrated that he emptied his
shotgun at them, killing about eight or so. Everyone looked at
him reproachfully. Someone said, ‘That’s not very sporting,’
and he shot them a murderous look. If the people who run the
club had seen him do it,” the source said, “they would have
thrown him out. He’s certainly not very popular with the other
members. What he did was scummy and he deserves to have
the world know.”
An anonymous ASPCA statement said that while it
does not condone hunting, it “can’t be responsible for the individual
actions of its 425,000 members.”
“Assuming the Post story is true,” Hindi commented,
“Mr. Drasner should immediately, unceremoniously and permanently
have been ejected from the ASPCA board. Mr.
Drasner is not merely one of 425,000 members. The ASPCA
should be able to weed out animal serial killers from a 20-
member board,” Hindi added, wondering how Drasner was
ever elected in the first place. “Mr. Drasner apparently does not
even measure up to the standards of fellow canned hunters,”
Hindi continued. “I hope animal lovers will look at this incident,
and ask themselves just what their donations are going
for when they support these huge organizations that seem to
have long ago lost their sense of purpose and mission.”
McCarter vs. Kullberg
Henry Bergh, who founded the ASPCA in 1869,
was an adamant foe of all blood sports, and was credited with
inventing the clay target pigeon in hopes of ending pigeon
shoots. But ASPCA board members have been caught shooting
captive birds before––and the response on the most recent previous
occasion was in stark contrast to the silence this time. On
November 21, 1988, New York magazine columnists Peg Tyre
and Jeannette Walls reported that then-ASPCA board chair
Thomas McCarter III, in his fifth year as chair, had participated
in “shooting birds at the Mashomack Preserve Club in
Dutchess County,” which maps indicate may be the same club
Drasner patronized.
Before the day was over, the late Jolene Marion of
Legal Action for Animals and former International Society for
Animal Rights vice president Nancy Anne Payton demanded
McCarter’s resignation in open letters.
“Tom’s actions were absolutely inappropriate, drastically
out of step with our commitment and our policy statements,”
then-ASPCA president John Kullberg told ANIMAL
PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton.
Kullberg invoked a then-two-year-old board code of
ethics, forcing McCarter to apologize, but apparently making a
powerful enemy. McCarter is still on the ASPCA board;
Kullberg resigned under fire 18 months later, after nearly 14
years as president. The apparent climactic conflict––though
Kullberg denied it––was that Kullberg wanted an ASPCA
handbook to promote vegetarianism. The board did not.
Roger Careless
Caras, Kullberg’s successor, is outspokenly opposed
to vegetarianism. In 1993-1994, Caras either fired or forced
the resignation of at least eight senior staff, five of whom were
accused of financial mismanagement and another of sexual
harassment. Yet Caras has shown little interest in ethical conflicts
pertaining to animal use. One of Caras’ first program initiatives
was to form a promotional alliance with the American
Greyhound Council, a greyhound racing industry front group,
unilaterally terminated by AGC in mid-1997. Caras has also
maintained close relations with dog breeders, through a long
association with the annual Westminster Dog Show. There
were no visible repercussions when in early 1994 ASPCA
board member Ed Hershey posed for the National Horseman’s
Network newsletter in a fur coat.
And Caras seems to have done little or nothing about
other issues involving Drasner. For instance, Drasner is a
trustee of the New York chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis
Society––the founding chapter of an organization which since
1946 has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars into animalbased
research. In 1996 alone, the M.S. Society raised $99
million, more than all U.S. antivivisection charities combined.
Fired in early 1994, former ASPCA chief of law
enforcement Herman Cohen told Timothy L. O’Brien of the
Wall Street Journal that he had clashed with Drasner and other
board members, who sought deputization as cruelty investigators,
he said, in order to carry firearms without a permit.
To qualify, the board members “requested gun training
for themselves in late 1992,” O’Brien reported. “At a total
cost of about $17,000, several board members were trained.
Although bills were sent to the ASPCA, the board says it
picked up the tab.”
Drasner, wrote O’Brien, “lobbied unsuccessfully for
private classes at his office.”
Other trainees, O’Brien said, “included Linda
Elkman, who was not an ASPCA official but the wife of board
member Steven Elkman.”
Steven Elkman, ANIMAL PEOPLE has been
informed, was recently elected board chair to succeed James

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