Defender Radio and The Switch
Episode 210: Santa's going fur-free

As things started to wind down at the Fur-Bearers office last week, we received a surprising piece of mail.

The letter was addressed to Adrian Nelson, our Director of Communications. He wasn’t sure from whom the letter came, as the return label was only a postal code – H0H0H0. He later said that the letter also smelled faintly of candy canes and gingerbread, but didn’t think much of that.

Signatures that appeared to read S. Claus, M. Claus, R. Deer and F. Jingles were listed.

As a group, we discussed what this letter was. A trick from the trappers? A trap from the tricksters? A ruse by Prime Minister Harper (known universally to be on the naughty list)?

While the discussion went on, Defender Radio host Michael Howie decided to don his old investigative journalist hat and make a few phones calls. What you’'ll hear on this week's episode is the unedited recordings of the evidence collected with a few well-placed phone calls.

Direct download: 2014-12-22_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:02pm EDT

Episode 209: Bella's story

Last week we told you the story of Bella and the Pelley family of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. Bella, a five-year-old lab mix, was caught in a terrifying leg-hold trap within the town limits while out for a walk with Peg Pelley and the family’s other dog, Whiskey. Bella damaged 17 of her teeth and severely bruised her paw why desperately trying to get free of the trap. A Good Samaritan was able to get Bella loose, and the Pelley family immediately sought out veterinary help.

To get the specialized dental care, Peg, her daughter Megan, and Bella had to travel to Montreal – hundreds of kilometres from their home. The night before the surgery, Peg spoke with Defender Radio about the harrowing ordeal, the treatment needed for Bella, and the support she has felt from both her local community and animal lovers across the country.

Direct download: 2014-12-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

Episode 208: The times they are a changin'

It gets frustrating for us animal lovers – the apparent lack of change, the ongoing suffering. But the times, they really are a changing.

This week we’re talking with two people involved in the process of change. First is Mario Canseco of Insights West, who conducted a poll on Canadian’s attitudes about fur and is an expert on consumer behaviour.

Following Mario is Camille Labchuk, the animal rights attorney well-known by our supporters. In her work with Animal Justice, Camille has played an important role in the development and release of the Animal Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

Direct download: 2014-12-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:21pm EDT

Episode 207: Winter is coming

The weather last week across most of Canada sure was frightful – snow, sleet and icy winds let us know that winter had officially arrived. Even in Vancouver, where most of the APFA team is likely lounging about in swimwear, temperatures took a dip. Here in Southern Ontario we received several inches of snow and a whistling wind for days on end.

But while we were all huddled up in warm layers and heated homes, our fur-bearing friends weathered the storm without assistance. And that’s what we’re focusing on this week.

Brad Gates of AAA Gates’ Wildlife Control will discuss the changing temperatures – and how they influence the behaviour of wildlife in urban areas, and what that means for homeowners. Then we’ll hear from Linda Bakker of the Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia who will let us know what to look for in birds and other animals who may be injured as winter progresses.

Direct download: 2014-11-24_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

Episode 206: History and future of the seal hunt

This week we’re diving into one of the most contentious issues of Canadian culture: the seal hunt. For a long time, the hunt was a necessary way of life for aboriginal peoples as well as those who sought fortune and subsistence on this land. But we contend that today it is unnecessary and cruel. To explore this issue with us, we were recently joined by Sheryl Fink, Director of Wildlife Campaigns for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

For more than a decade, Sheryl has worked on the seal hunt issue, which included witnessing and recording the hunt, working with international partners and developing strategies to bring it to an end.

Our conversation delved into the history of the hunt, the evolution of attitudes, the role the fur industry plays in the modern seal hunt, and what people can be doing to voice their concerns.

Direct download: 2014-11-17_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:44pm EDT

Episode 205: Who puts fur in fashion?

You’ve been hearing a lot about our #MakeFurHistory campaign in the last week and a half – and sharing it with your friends, family and neighbours. We’re seeing a huge influx of support as a result and can’t thank you all enough. This week we’re taking another look at the fur industry and why fur is still fashionable with a top designer, professor and blogger: Joshua Katcher.

Editor and founder of the Discerning Brute blog, designer of the Brave Gentleman fashion line and an adjunct professor of fashion at Parsons, Joshua is widely regarded as an expert on sustainable and humane fashion.

In a recent conversation with Defender Radio, Joshua not only touched on his background and interest in humane fashion, but looked at the history and evolution of fur, the cultural symbolism it continues to represent and how we might fight the fur industry by using their own tactics against them.

Direct download: 2014-11-10_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Episode 204: #MakeFurHistory

Late last week we unveiled our latest – and largest ever – campaign: Make Fur History. On this week’s episode of Defender Radio, we’ll be telling you more about the campaign, how it was developed and the realities facing mink and fox on today’s Canadian fur farms.

We'll hear from Tricia Stevens of LUSH Cosmetics on why the international make up company decided to get behind the campaign.

One of our partner agencies, the Montreal SPCA, has done intensive work looking at the legislation surrounding animals on fur farms and what it means in the big picture. Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA will speak about this unsettling issue.

To learn more about the #MakeFurHistory campaign, please visit and take the pledge, share with your friends and help us make fur history.

Direct download: 2014-11-03_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Episode 203: Living With Wildlife Highlights Part 2

The Living With Wildlife 2014 conference was a resounding success! Nearly 100 guests and speakers arrived at the Holiday Inn Carlton in Toronto on October 17 for a day of seminars, education and networking.

Topics of the day covered everything from animal laws to rehabilitation of bears, and municipal wildlife strategies to living with coyotes.

In this week's episode of Defender Radio we're bringing you highlights from two of our speakers: Donna Doyle of the Town of Oakville, who explained the importance of a municipal wildlife strategy, and Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us Rehabilitation and Sanctuary, who detailed the vital need to understand bear language and how we can peacefully live among them.

Direct download: 2014-10-27_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

Episode 202: Living With Wildlife Highlights Part 1

The Living With Wildlife 2014 conference was a resounding success! Nearly 100 guests and speakers arrived at the Holiday Inn Carlton in Toronto on October 17 for a day of seminars, education and networking.

Topics of the day covered everything from animal laws to rehabilitation of bears, and municipal wildlife strategies to living with coyotes.

In this week's episode of Defender Radio we're bringing you highlights from two of our speakers: Erin McCance, who discussed white-tailed deer and urban management issues in Winnipeg, and Brad Gates of AAA Gates Wildlife Control, who entertained and educated the group with discussions of wildlife proofing homes.


Direct download: 2014-10-20_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Episode 201: Rewilding Our Hearts

We can barely believe it’s been a full year since this project first started. In that year we’ve had dozens of interviews with internationally-recognized scientists and advocates. We’re heard one-on-one interviews with those who have witnessed tragedy and those who have stopped cruelty. We’ve worked with great people Psychologist and beaver believer Dr. Heidi Perryman, rock star and animal lover Bif Naked, photographer Jo-Anne McArthur and Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada. We’ve talked about issues ranging from wolf ecosystem protection and the natural history of beavers to keeping squirrels out of attics and how to talk about co-existence with your schools. And through it all, we’ve had you, our incredible supporters, listening in.

And what better way to start Season Two of Defender Radio than with two of our absolute favourite guests?

We’ll be hearing from Brad Gates, owner of AAA Gates Wildlife Control on raccoons in Toronto – why they’re here and how we can live alongside them, as well as Dr. Marc Bekoff, discussing his upcoming book, Rewildling Our Hearts.

Let’s get started with season two!

Direct download: 2014-10-13_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:49am EDT

Episode 150: Living With Wildlife Preview

It’s been a long week for us at APFA – the celebration we were having over the RCMP’s decision to ditch their muskrat fur hats for their regular cold weather uniform was brought to an abrupt halt. The Conservative government stated they would overturn the decision in order to protect the fur industry.

You’ll hear more about this from one of our guests this week, but to get the details and sign the petition asking the government to honour the RCMP’s decision, check out or visit us on Facebook at or Twitter with @FurBearers

In addition to the media hoopla caused by the government’s decision, we’re also busy getting ready for the 2014 Living With Wildlife conference in Toronto. And this week, we’re bringing you interviews from two of our speakers.

Camille Labchuk, a former Green Party candidate and animal rights lawyer, will be presenting at the conference on October 17. She recently joined us to talk about her work using the law for the animals, as well as how she’s fighting the government’s overruling of the RCMP decision.

Following Camille will be Donna Doyle of the Town of Oakville’s Environmental Policy department. Donna has played a vital role in the development of a wildlife plan, an environmental plan and most recently a road ecology plan, leading the Town of Oakville to a higher standard of living for animals.

Direct download: 2014-10-06_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Episode 149: Protecting wolves on the prairies

The shocking news out of Saskatchewan that an additional 100 permits for hunting and trapping wolves in Wildlife Management Zone 49 made a splash across our social media platforms last week. In our blog, we told you that the Ministry of Environment is responding to an alleged increase in livestock predation from wolves and that population control was their only choice.

We disagreed.

We have long stated that co-existence is possible – be it with coyotes and raccoons in downtown Toronto or bears and wolves in rural Alberta. And this week, we’re bringing you two experts who will help us with that argument.

Louise Liebenberg, owner of The Graziere ranch in Alberta, will chat with us about Livestock Guardian Dogs – one of the oldest co-existence methods around, dating back hundreds of years in Eastern Europe. We’ll also hear from wolf expert Sadie Parr of about the realities of culling wolves and the implications it has for the ecosystem, as well the governments and landowners who stand behind the guns and traps.

Direct download: 2014-09-22_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT

Episode 148: Back to school, week 2

We’re continuing our back to school series – focusing this week on the two-legged young who are eager to learn.

This week we’re happy to bring you two top humane educators. First up is Zoe Weil, co-founder and president of The Institute for Humane Education, who will share her thoughts on the importance of humane education in homes and classrooms, as well as the best way to get teachers on board with the rapidly growing demand for such lessons.

Following Zoe is Paula Neuman, Manager of Humane Education for the BC SPCA, who will talk about the success the west coast organization has had in teaching children – some of whom are today staff at the BC SPCA – what it means to be compassionate.

We know that many parents in British Columbia are struggling with keeping their children busy – and entertained – during a prolonged labour dispute between teachers and the province. We’re happy to inform you that our own lesson plans – with content ranging from K to 12 – is available to freely download at These lessons can serve as a great way to keep your children thinking and learning while awaiting their return to the classroom.


Direct download: 2014-09-15_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

Episode 147: Going back to school

Education is part of the foundation of a solid democracy, and in Canada we take that responsibility quite seriously. We have some of the best elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the world – and millions of young Canadians are back to the books this week. But every day we have important lessons to learn outside the classroom, as well.

This week we’re taking a look at two different – and equally important – types of education.

We’ll be joined by Tyler Jamieson, an Ottawa-area advocate who last year ran a series of successful demonstrations promoting the fur-free message at college and university campuses. Then we’ll hear from Coyote Watch Canada’s Lesley Sampson who will tell us how coyotes are going back to school, too.


Direct download: 2014-09-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 9:40pm EDT

Episode 146: Quebec's fur farm nightmare

It’s been a long summer for those of us in the fight against the fur lobby – particularly after the events at a Quebec fur farm. The Montreal SPCA is in a battle of political will and legislative authority with the province’s Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks who have not acted on allegations of neglect and cruelty.

To bring us up to date on the investigation of the Quebec fur farm, the report and concerns of wildlife experts and veterinarians, and the possibilioty of legal action against the provincial government is Montreal SPCA spokesperson Sophie Gaillard.

We also have a special feature on this week's episode: behind the fur industry spin, breaking down a media interview from the Fur Council of Canada.

Direct download: 2014-09-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 4:54pm EDT

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

As animal advocates, we often feel frustrated, despondent and outright angry at the world around us – and that’s a healthy, normal response. But sometimes those feelings can overwhelm us and influence our ability to help wild life and be happy, healthy individuals.

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.

Direct download: 2014-08-24_DefenderRadio_v2.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

Episode 144: The Calgary beaver tale

In recent weeks you’ve seen us on the news, read about us in newspapers and heard us on the radio talking about beavers and trapping in Calgary. Now we’re bringing the story back to the woman who started it.

In mid-July, Linda Lelonde and her husband were walking in a park when they came across a beaver, later discovered to be caught in an allegedly humane Conibear trap. The trauma of the event shook Linda – and the entire animal-loving community of Calgary. With her compassion and perseverance, the issue became a major talking point in the city. APFA got involved, offering our assistance in building and installing flow devices so that beaver trapping in the city could end.

We finally caught up with Linda last week and are now bringing you her own account of the incident, what has happened since that fateful day and where she hopes to see the City of Calgary’s beaver management program end.

Direct download: 2014-08-18_DefenderRadio_2.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 10:50pm EDT

Episode 143: Algonquin coywolf goes home

In late January 2014, Paula Tough had been out with a friend and their dogs near Algonquin Park when they came across what appeared to be a wolf caught in a snare. The wire had cut into the animals’ leg deeply, and the nearby damage and scat showed he had been caught for at least three or four days.

Paula took extraordinary action – with the help of a friend, she was able to cut the snare, load the animal into a crate and drive it straight down to Aspen Valley Wildlife Centre.

The initial outlook was not good for the animal, who was eventually discovered to be a young Algonquin coywolf. His leg had to be amputated due to the severity of the injury.

But with the hard work of volunteers and staff at Aspen Valley, as well as a whole lot of guts on the part of the coywolf, he was successfully released in the first week of August.

Julie Woodyer of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary joined Defender Radio to discuss the rehabilitation of the coywolf, his release, and what it means for the future of injured wildlife.

Direct download: 2014-08-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 10:42am EDT

Episode 142: Five Elephants

Once upon a time, Rob Laidlaw was a young man who wanted to protect animals. Today, Rob has become an animal advocacy powerhouse as the head of Zoocheck Canada, frequent speaker, and most recently, author of a series of best-selling and award-winning children’s books.

Titles such as No Shelter Here and Saving Lives and Changing Hearts have won multiple awards, been translated into numerous languages and hit the shelves of schools and libraries from coast to coast. It has also catapulted Rob’s career in a direction he never expected.

To celebrate the release of his latest book, 5 Elephants, Rob joined Defender Radio to talk about the path that led him to becoming a best-selling children’s book author, learning how to be an advocate and what young people – as well as their parents – can be doing to better the lives of animals around the world.

Direct download: 2014-08-04_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 9:56am EDT

Episode 141: In the trenches of wildlife rehab

As summer is coming to its peak, so are the thousands of wild babies from coast to coast. While APFA works hard to protect them through education, advocacy, by-laws and policy, much effort is still needed on the front lines. And those who stand in the trenches are wildlife rehabilitators.

In Burnaby, BC, the Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia takes in several thousand injured, orphaned or sick wild animals every year. Their team of rehabilitators work tirelessly to provide care, comfort and a second chance for animals who have been wrongly injured or taken from their homes.

This week, we’re hearing from two staffers of the WRA – Karen Becker, a wildlife rehabilitator, as well as Yolanda Brooks, Communications Manager. The two sides – front office and back care rooms – will be explored in these interviews.

Direct download: 2014-07-28_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 2:59pm EDT

Episode 140: Grizzlies and the Heiltsuk people

On the central coast of British Columbia sits the traditional lands of the Heiltsuk First Nations people. In their language, Heiltsuk means to speak and act correctly, and this concept is an important part of their culture. The Qqs (pronounced Kuks, meaning eyes) Projects society was formed to support Heiltsuk youth, culture and environment and ensure a vibrant, strong future for the people. As part of this, the Qqs Projects Society joined with major academics from across North America to launch a study of the grizzly bears that call the Koeye River home, or at least a popular feeding ground in the right season.

Protecting these bears and their habitat is of vital importance to the Heiltsuk First Nations. We were recently joined by William Housty, a Director of the Qqs Project Society who is noted as having an unparalled knowledge of Heiltsuk stories, songs and ceremonies – as well as a degree in environmental sciences.

To learn more about William Housty, the Qqs Project Society or the Heiltsuk First Nations, visit


Direct download: 2014-07-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

Episode 139: Getting footloose in Montana

We in Canada may look upon Montana as the last vestige of the wild west – and in many ways, it is. Ranchers, landowner’s rights and the old American west live on in the Northern state. But not everyone wants to hold onto every bit of that tradition.

Montana is filled with trappers and their cruel devices. Standing against them is Footloose Montana, a registered charity that is looking to end the reign of terror trappers leave in their wake. From hosting trap-release seminars to beginning legal action, Footloose Montana is doing what they can to combat trapping.

Joining us this week is the new executive director of Footloose Montana, Christopher Justice, who will share the group’s vision of a trap-free Montana.

Direct download: 2014-07-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

Episode 138: The wolf effect

Perhaps the most mystic – and most feared – wildlife in Canada, wolves are making a comeback. Throughout the western United States, wolf populations are beginning to re-emerge after a courageous plan to reintroduce them to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s. But along with their reintroduction has come ongoing fear, paranoia from ranchers and the happy trigger fingers of hunters and trappers.

Add that to the ongoing persecution of wolves in Canada and the species is by no means free of their one-time endangered status.

But this has also created a unique and historic opportunity to study wolves and how they affect ecosystems. Two recent studies have identified and are extrapolating what is becoming known as The Wolf Effect.

We’ll hear from two leading scientists who have examined this phenomenon; first is Dr. Thomas Newsome, who has worked with a team that is exploring how wolf populations affect the populations of foxes and coyotes. Then we’ll be joined by Dr. Mark Elbroch, who is part of one of the longest-standing cougar studies in North America and has fascinating details on how wolves are impacting cougar populations and territory selection.

Direct download: 2014-07-07_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 1:37pm EDT

Episode 137: The best of the beavers

It's our Canada Day special!

To celebrate the 147th birthday of our great nation, we’re bringing you the best of beavers from Defender Radio’s first season.

You’ll hear from some world-renowned experts, film makers and even some of APFA’s own staffers in this look back, along with a couple of new clips from our friends who love beavers, too.

Direct download: 2014-06-31_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT

Episode 136: Interpeting intelligence

Intelligence means different things to different people. To an anthrozoologist or biologist, it can be the measurement of intellect or sentience in a living being. To someone in law enforcement, it’s the product of analyzed data. And both versions are what we’re discussing on this week’s episode.

Andrea Crosta, a security expert who has worked with the likes of Homeland Security, has taken his experience and changed his focus to the illegal wildlife trade. Head of the Elephant Action League, Crosta recently opened the floodgates on WildLeaks – a crime fighting tool to protect the people and animals involved in the illegal trade worldwide.

Our good friend and internationally-renowned animal expert Dr. Marc Bekoff says that all animals live emotional lives – even crayfish. A recent study shows that crayfish, a low-order invertebrate, has the same chemical reaction to stimuli and serotonin as humans. The implications of this are profound – and Marc will share his thoughts.

Direct download: 2014-06-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT

Episode 135: The quest for understanding

Every day, life happens around us: from viruses multiplying to humans launching rockets into space - the need for growth forces change. Yet despite these clearly understood needs, we often have difficulty understanding the millions of lives surrounding our own.

The quest to understand what animals think and feel is one that may never be complete; but there are ways for us to understand what motivates them and why it is important to work to ensure their protection.

On the west coast, thousands of people are working to protect grizzly bears – apex predators essential to the survival of ecosystems. Included in those ranks are professional bear guides from the Coastal First Nations who want hunters to take a shot – but with cameras instead of guns. We’ll be joined by expert bear guide Douglas Neasloss who explains what the Great Bear Initiative means and how it may save the bears of the west coast.

Out east, tragedy struck Moncton as three RCMP officers were killed and others injured when a madman opened fire upon them. As the case unravelled, the suspect was caught and will face justice. From that story, however, erupted heart-wrenching photos of a police service dog, Danny, whose partner Constable David Ross was killed in the gunfire. We’ll speak with Yvette Van Veen, a dog behaviourist and science-based trainer to try and understand what emotions Danny may or may not have felt when the iconic photos of him sniffing his partner’s Stetson were snapped.

Direct download: 2014-06-16_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 9:08pm EDT

Episode 134: Become a beaver believer