Defender Radio and The Switch

Having a chipmunk come up, sniff your finger cautiously, then nip a treat and run off is magical; I won’t lie – it’s pretty remarkable. But the consequence of that single moment of joy for a person can lead to devastating impacts to ecosystems, communities and individual animals.

Be it for a close-up experience, because of a perception of hunger and need, or even incidental feeding from outdoor pet food or bird feeders, most folks who feed wildlife do so with goodness in their heart. This episode isn’t about blaming or shaming – because that simply doesn’t work. It’s about understanding the complexity of nature and animal behaviour, and the role – often negative – humans end up playing.

You only need to look to British Columbia’s black bears to see the significant impacts of failing to take down bird feeders or be aware of the impact of unintentional and intentional feeding – hundreds of bears killed every year by conservation authorities. You can identify feeding in a significant number of cases when coyotes inappropriately interact with people. And, even with little chipmunks and squirrels, as I note later in this interview, feeding can end up wreaking havoc in an ecosystem or causing behaviour that the public views as aggressive or bold.

To go in-depth on feeding – from causes, to impact to solutions, I reached out to Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer of the BC SPCA, who is also a professor at University of British Columbia. Dr. Dubois has an impressive background on the subjects of wildlife, ethics, humane treatment of animals in numerous sectors, and, of course, the impact of feeding wildlife.

To learn more about the BC SPCA, visit 

To learn more about the BC SPCA's resources on wildlife feeding, visit

This week's episode art provided by Christiane Cottin (@nanididada on Instagram), who originally submitted the photo to this year's BC SPCA's Wildlife-In-Focus Photo Contest. Check out more entries at

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_815_Wildlife_Feeding.mp3
Category:Season 08 -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT