A Bit of History Taken Out of the Rabbit Hole

On Wings August 1995 Vol 1:5

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

According to Newsweek, Jay Hair, chief Executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation, will resign his $325,000 plus pay package job. His resignation came after months of internal turmoil over Hair's large salary and liberal and free-wheeling use of travel benefits. According to the Newsweek article, employees of the NWF, one of the largest conservation organizations in the country, were "in open revolt." Presently NWF's income is in a state of decline due to sagging catalogue sales and slipping membership. Former senior VP Larry Schwaiger stated that at the time of Hair's resignation, "He has been absent without leave," apparently largely on non-NWF business. Hair was unavailable for comment.

Internet sources state that Hair is also president of the prestigious International Union for the Conservation of Nature. IUCN, World Wildlife Fund, and Birdwatch International (formerly the International Council for Bird Preservation) all work very closely with each other and the CITES Secretariat. Six figure salaries and huge travel budgets are not uncommon in conservation groups, but are coming under increased criticism by members and donors who would rather see their money spend on field projects involving citizens of the third world countries in which they are done.

Hot Times at HSUS

On Wings August 1995 Vol 1:7

The largest animal rights group in the U.S., the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has placed its director of international operations and chief cruelty investigator, David Wills, on administrative leave following allegations of sexual harassment by two HSUS employees. Wills, 43, is also accused of embezzling cash from HSUS projects and of misuse of "large cash sums" earmarked for the payment of informants. Wills reportedly often traveled abroad on undercover assignments and handled cash payments to informants in alleged cruelty investigations. Outside investigators have reportedly been retained to investigate.

The charges, reported in the October 2 issue of U.S. News and World Report, are detailed in discrimination complaints filed by Cristobel Block and Virginia Bollinger with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. In addition to the sexual harassment charges, Block and Bollinger were joined by former Wills aide Kimberly Roberts in accusing Wills of stealing funds slated for Society projects and of falsifying his expense account reports. Roberts's 11 page statement detailed what she termed "strong evidence of the embezzlement" of over $16,500. Bollinger's statement also accused Wills of wining and dining his girlfriends at HSUS expense, listing them in paperwork as "biologists".

The article reported that former HSUS employees complained of money being wasted on exorbitant salaries, big expense accounts and excessive fund raising costs. "The Humane Society should be worried about protecting animals from cruelty. It's not doing that. The place is all about power and money," HSUS consultant and former chief investigator Robert Baker is quoted in the piece.

With a 1993 membership of 930,000, the organization boasts a $21,000,000 annual budget. Washington, D.C. based, with a stated purpose "To improve the lives of animals, both domestic and wild," the organization pays a salary of $197,000 a year to chief executive John Hoyt. Hoyt is also president of the Humane Society International, of which Wills is executive director, and Earthkind, U.S.A. No salary figures were available from these organizations. President Paul Irwin commands a salary of $186,000 at the HSUS and is said to travel about 100,000 miles a year.

Regular readers will remember the $325,000 pay package that culminated in the resignation of Jay Hair, Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation. Hair also held other positions in so-called conservation organizations.

HSUS maintains that the American pet trade is responsible for the decline of several species of parrots, citing the Spix's macaw as an `example of a bird driven to extinction by trapping for the pet trade. The HSUS, along with such organizations as the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), have worked for years to ban or restrict the trade in wild birds in the United States. Dr. Susan Lieberman, primary author of regulations under the Wild Bird Conservation Act, was once an elephant specialist for HSUS.

In his book, Animals in Peril, Hoyt quotes Lieberman's views on trade: "if the proponents of a trade ban had been given some support during the preceding decade, 'there would be a lot more elephants alive today." HSUS, along with AWI and the EIA, believe that only an end to the trade in birds will save them from extinction.