Defender Radio and The Switch
Episode 411: Pooches, Perception, and Compassion

If you see a dog sit down and pant, are they smiling, or showing anxiety? If they roll on their back, is it submissive, or simply an ask for a belly rub? And what, possibly, do these questions have to do with how we communicate messages of greater social change?

A conversation on dog behaviour and our perception of it – namely, focused on the upsetting incident of a polar bear killing a dog around the same time a video of a polar bear touching a dog at the same location went viral – was the original purpose of this week’s Defender Radio episode. A discussion of critical thinking, dog behaviour, and perception is, of course, where we started. But in talking with Joan Watson, a dog behaviourist, owner of K9 Shrink, and Animal Behaviour/Ethics instructor at Durham College, a bigger picture started to form.

Could the way we perceive behaviour in dogs, and how we start to understand what our canine companions really need, help us foster compassionate change in other arenas? Could the experiences of learning to exercise empathy in dealing with non-human animal issues show us clues into having better conversations on policy and social reform?

In this last Defender Radio episode of 2016, you’ll find out just how much we can learn from our canine friends, and how Joan Weston helped us ask the right questions that may lead to a better 2017.

Direct download: 2016-12-19_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:21pm EDT

Episode 410: Doug's Story

Jaclyn Penney’s family is in mourning. Their beloved dog, Doug, who had been with them only six months, died in front of Jaclyn’s mother from the unrelenting crush of a snare trap in November. While out for a walk on their dead end, residential street near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Doug wandered only several feet from the side of the road when he activated the snare, quickly killing him.

It is a trauma that no animal should endure. But that day, Jaclyn had to find a way to tell her young son why his friend wasn’t waiting for him when he came home from school.

An interview with the CBC, and hundreds of emails from supporters of The Fur-Bearers, got the attention of the province’s Minister of Environment and Conservation Perry Trimper, whose office reached out to Jaclyn to set up a meeting.

Jaclyn joined Defender Radio to share what was discussed in that meeting, as well as how her family is handling the tragic loss of Doug and trying to move forward.

Direct download: 2016-12-12_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

Episode 409: Finding Shelter

The Rowels family was trying to find a home. But when they arrived in a tiny town in southern Bulgaria, they found their calling: finding homes for street dogs.

The heartwarming story began with Diane and Tony Rowels looking for a change in their family’s life. The couple moved themselves and their children to Rudozem, Bulgaria, where they hoped to perhaps open a café. Instead, they became protectors of street dogs, opened a shelter, and help rehome hundreds of dogs across Europe.

Their story, with its ups and downs, loss and beauty, is told in a documentary directed by a long-time supporter of The Fur-Bearers, Erin Parks. Finding Shelter, the story of the Rudozem Street Dog Rescue, is available now on the iTunes store, with proceeds going to help the dogs. To share with us insight into the Rowels’ family story, the impact they’re making for the dogs, and how wanting to tell the stories of various animal rescues around the world led to focusing on this very special family, Erin Parks joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-12-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT

Episode 408: Cougars, Co-existence, and the Capacity to Care

Two cougars killed by the Conservation Officer Service in a coastal community in British Columbia created quite the stir this week. Social media and the traditional media were fascinated by photos captured by a resident, Gladys Miller, showing the juvenile cougars hunting a seal, and lazing about the tiny town of Ocean Falls. The decision to kill the cougars, who the conservation officers say were habituated, conditioned, and a threat to public safety, also fascinated many, generating news articles, social media posts, and blogs, much like the one posted at earlier today.

Bryce Casavant, the former Conservation Officer who was ostracized by the government for refusing to kill two healthy bear cubs in 2014, told Defender Radio he’d like to talk about the situation. While we expected a brief chat, followed by a more extensive interview with a biologist, the interview went in a much different direction.

A surprisingly candid conversation with Bryce ensued about his experience making life and death choices, struggling with conditions and circumstances regarding wildlife and human conflict, public perceptions of cougars, fear, and safety, and his new work as a doctoral candidate at Royal Roads University exploring humankind’s compassion to care about animals. And that conversation in its entirety is this week’s episode of Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-11-28_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Episode 407: A Day To End Seal Products

“Don’t tell me, show me,” is a way of noting that actions mean more than words. And maybe it’s a lesson Canadian parliamentarians need when it comes to fishermen and seal hunters in eastern Canada.

Sheryl Fink, director of Canadian Wildlife Campaigns for IFAW, today published an article on the Huffington Post about a small private members’ bill from the Senate that represents a big problem. Bill S-208, if passed, would create National Seal Products Day. The intent is pretty obvious: to increase world interest in seal fur products from the commercial seal hunt in Canada. This is not the Inuit or sustenance hunt of the far North – it is a strictly commercial enterprise that has dwindled for decades – and finally crashed in 2009 with a European Union prohibition on commercially-harvested seal products.

Sherly joined Defender Radio to talk about her article, a petition Canadians can sign to let their politicians know how they feel about the commercial seal hunt, and how we can stop talking about seal products, and start showing sustainable economic solutions to families in eastern Canada.

Direct download: 2016-11-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:49pm EDT

Episode 406: Giving A Hoot for Species At Risk

The frightening reality is that British Columbia has no species at risk or endangered species laws on the books.

Species at Risk legislation is what it sounds like – policies that are put in place to protect all species that’s population is deemed, scientifically, to be in a precarious position within an environment. This can range from aquatic plant life to terrestrial mammals, and small flowers to big birds. Remarkably, British Columbia has no provincial species at risk legislation.

Right now, as part of their five-year-plan to protect species at risk (which doesn’t include developing standalone species at risk legislation), BC is accepting comments on a series of topics. This unique opportunity is only available through the end of November, and getting educated is the first step to putting together compelling responses. Defender Radio was joined by Joe Foy, National Campaign Director at The Wilderness Committee to talk about species at risk legislation in BC – and how we can effectively participate in this government engagement initiative.

Direct download: 2016-11-14_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 5:40pm EDT

Episode 405: Challenging Cougar Conflict Misconceptions

Cougars are persecuted for the typical reasons: they’re large carnivores that, when they come into conflict with people or places people live, can do significant damage. Add on the instinctual fear we have of large predators, the media’s love of sensationalizing stories about wildlife, and it all starts to make sense.

But one study is challenging the way we should be looking at cougar-related conflict.

Dr. Chris Darimont, Hakai-Raincoast professor at University of Victoria, science director for Raincoast Conservation, and research scholar for the Hakai Institute, coauthored a study that looked at 30 years of cougar conflict data – along with 30 years of cougar hunting data – and has shown a startling correlation between the two in British Columbia.

In simple terms, when cougars are hunted – primarily as trophy animals – Dr. Darimont’s study shows that conflict with livestock and people goes up. To discuss this paper, its wide-ranging ramifications, and why the government and hunters are trying their best to ignore it, Dr. Darimont joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-11-07_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

Episode 404: Trophy

Ninety-one percent of people in British Columbia oppose the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, from all demographics and geographic regions. Economic studies have shown that grizzly bear viewing is the future of ecotourism in British Columbia, significantly outperforming the guided hunts. And First Nations people – on whose traditional land many of the hunts take place – are condemning a government that ignores their wishes. But still, the hunt goes on.

And those who lobby for this bloody activity have a new opponent to facedown: LUSH Cosmetics.

The ethical business that has supported many social and environmental causes around the world – including The Fur-Bearers’ #MakeFurHistory campaign – have entered the ring with plans for a knockout punch. Trophy, a documentary presented by LUSH with the vision of their in-house director Inder Nirwan, looks at the issue of grizzly bear trophy hunting across North America, and asks the ultimate question: can we truly justify killing these animals for sport?

On this week’s episode, Defender Radio connected with Douglas Neasloss, Chief Councillor and Resource Stewardship Director of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, to discuss the traditional and economic importance of the grizzly bear to his nation, as well as his experiencing dealing with a provincial government that simply isn’t listening. We also spoke with LUSH Cosmetic’s Inder Nirwan, the director and primary filmmaker behind Trophy

Direct download: 2016-10-31_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Episode 403: The Wolf Policy Paradox

The status of wolves is a contentious subject these days. Between myths and fact, depredation and trophic cascades, it seems that every opinion is equally right, and wrong. It only follows that when it comes to making policy about wolves, that paradox would follow.

A perfect example of this comes from Ontario, where the newly-identified Algonquin Wolf was given threatened status over summer. The genetically unique subspecies of wolf already received protection in Algonquin Provincial Park – but due to the Algonquin wolf’s status, a review of additional protections was in order. On the table for review was a plan to prohibit trapping and hunting in various management units of all wolves, including the not-threatened grey wolf, and coyotes, which can be so morphologically like the Algonquin wolf, only DNA can differentiate the species.

Ultimately, no one was really happy with the government’s decision, including the researcher who spoke with Defender Radio. Hannah Barron, Director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns at Earthroots, joined us to talk Algonquin wolves, science-based conservation, and the failings of poor policy.

Direct download: 2016-10-24_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

Episode 402: The Bear Facts of the Scientific Method

It seems that much of society has lost its grip on what words like facts or theories actually mean, and how they should and shouldn’t be used. It becomes particularly concerning, however, when these words get used incorrectly in popular media or in discussions about policy affecting wildlife and the environment.

Even amongst advocates we see misuse of scientific terms, or arguments that aren’t as strong as they could be due to an inability to properly engage the scientific community.

Fortunately, education is always possible, and that’s why Defender Radio connected with Biologist and doctoral candidate Kyle Artelle to review the bear (get it?) facts of the scientific method.

Direct download: 2016-10-17_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:32pm EDT

Episode 401: Nathaniel's Message of Hope

Though it has been a rough week for animal advocates, I’m very pleased to be starting this new season with a message of hope.

On Wednesday, October 5, Bill C-246 - the Modernizing Animal Protections Act – was defeated in the federal House of Commons. The private members bill, which was put forward by Toronto-area MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, would have updated the criminal code as it relates to bestiality and animal cruelty, banned the importation of shark fins, prohibited the importation and sale of dog and cat fur, and require all fur products to be labelled. Most animal advocates – and many MPs – saw this as a common sense update to outdated laws.

Despite widespread support, the bill was stopped at its second reading – the second phase of a private members’ bill. Parliamentarians voted down the forward progress of the legislation by a margin of 198 to 84, with a number of Liberals and all but one Conservative member saying nay.

Though his bill was defeated, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith remains hopeful that Canada is another step closer to a more compassionate future, and he joined Defender Radio today – less than 48 hours after the vote – to share his message of hope.

Direct download: 2016-10-07_Full.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:12pm EDT

Episode 332: A Shot In The Dark

The word science is often used as a shield when discussing wildlife policies, particularly management of predators in relation to depredation. Whether it’s governments, lobbyists for hunters and trappers, or even some wildlife protection advocates, the word can get flung around so much you’d think there’s an endless well of studies on the subject.

But there’s a surprisingly small amount of reliable research available – and much of what has been published in journals has significant flaws. That means that, to paraphrase the title of the study we’re discussing today, wildlife management becomes a shot in the dark.

Dr. Adrian Treves of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with his coauthors, published a study earlier this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that looks at the existing science on this subject. Titled Predator Management Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark, Treves and his team reviewed the majority of available studies on the effectiveness of depredation, and their shocking findings led them to recommend a suspension of all “lethal predator control methods that do not currently have rigorous evidence for functional effectiveness in preventing livestock loss until gold-standard tests are completed.”

To talk about his study, the research, and the ramifications he and his team may face for going against the status quo, Defender Radio was joined by Dr. Adrian Treves.

Direct download: 2016-09-12_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

Episode 331: Simply (smelly) skunks

When it comes to skunks, most of us have one of two images in our head. The first is the stinky animal we avoid at all costs. The other… well, the other is a little unrealistic.

The striped predators are surprisingly charming, playful, and loving animals – from a distance. And as a common fur-bearer in urban areas, they can often end up getting into trouble.

Fortunately, there are wildlife rehabilitators like the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby, British Columbia, who are always ready to leap into action to help critters that find themselves injured due to human activity. And to tell us more about skunks – and some of the issues they face this time of year – we were joined by Janelle Vandeerbeek of the WRA.

Direct download: 2016-08-22_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:52pm EDT

Episode 330: Wolves in the crosshairs

Woodland caribou aren’t doing too well in Alberta. Two herds specifically, those in the Little Smoky and A La Peche ranges, are at risk of extirpation, or local extinction. Under federal endangered species legislation, Alberta is required to take action. Sadly, this has put wolves in the crosshairs of poor policy and planning.

Recently, a proposal that would lengthen the campaign of wolf killing in an unscientific attempt to prevent losses to the herds, as well as ignore critical changes to habitat through resource exploitation, was fought by a group of wildlife advocates, headed by Wolf Awareness Inc.

To discuss the natural history of Alberta’s wolves, the potentially disastrous proposal being considered by the province, and what wolf lovers around the world can do to stop it, Defender Radio was joined by Sadie Parr, executive director of Wolf Awareness Inc.

Direct download: 2016-08-15_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

Episode 329: Algonquin's Wolves

The provincial park is home to the Eastern wolf – now often referred to as Algonquin Wolves. These wolves are considered a threatened species and, within the park and a buffer zone, receive protections from hunting and trapping. Given the difficulty in identifying an Algonquin wolf from a coyote or a mix of the two, these protections extend to the similar looking canids.

But studies are showing that as soon as the wolves leave these protective enclaves, be it chasing prey or searching for new territories, they quickly become victims of hunters and trappers. Can select areas of protection truly help restore the Algonquin wolf’s population to healthy levels, or will connected buffers and larger areas of land be necessary?

To talk about the situation facing the Algonquin wolf – as well as Ontario’s coyotes, Defender Radio was joined by Hannah Barron, Director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns for Earthroots.

Direct download: 2016-08-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

Episode 328: How to rescue BC's rangers

Across BC’s vast landscape is over 14 million hectares of protected lands and provincial parks. Tourists from around the world flock to these beautiful, picturesque destinations, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy.

And there are only seven people to protect it all.

The Wilderness Committee, a BC-based NGO recently sent out a press release that outlined the dire straights of the BC Parks ranger program, noting that there are fewer park rangers than there are critically endangered spotted owls left in the province.

To discuss what this means, what the consequences truly are, and how the public can help rescue the rangers, Defender Radio was joined by Gwen Barlee of The Wilderness Committee.

Direct download: 2016-07-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

Episode 327: Mysterious Marmots

As many as 30 Vancouver Island Marmots are presumed dead after their embedded transmitters failed to activate following their hibernation this spring. The Vancouver-area media picked up on this story and made it national news – after all, people in the area have loved them for years.

But for the rest of Canada, the coverage of 30 missing rodents left us scratching our heads. What are Vancouver Island Marmots? Why are people so interested in them? What makes them different from other marmots all across the country? And what difference would it make if they lived on Vancouver Island or not?

To get answers to these questions and many more, Defender Radio was joined by Adam Taylor, Executive Director of The Marmot Recovery Foundation.

Direct download: 2016-07-04_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

Episode 326: The BS in BSL

From Stubby, the highly decorated canine soldier in World War One, to Pete the Pup, who tagged along with the Little Rascals, pit bull like dogs were once a loyal friend and family pet. But due to media sensationalism, reactionary politics, and crippling bias, they are being outlawed and ostracized.

Recently, communities within Quebec and La Belle Province itself have proposed numerous actions they say will protect citizens from dangerous dogs – but most of these actions are simply breed specific legislation. Defender Radio was today joined by two special guests – Anita Kapuscinska of the Montreal SPCA to speak about legislation in Quebec, and Dr. Karen Overall, a veterinary specialist and researcher, to discuss myths and facts about dogs and pit bull-like dogs around the world.

Direct download: 2016-06-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:15pm EDT

Episode 325: Uncertainty, certainly

We began to tentatively celebrate when earlier this month the Auditor General of British Columbia revealed there would be an investigation into the trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

The exact notification, found on the AG website, read the investigation would be to, “determine if the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are effectively managing the grizzly bear population in BC.”

The announcement is a result of the AG’s office seeing a peer-reviewed study conducted by our friends at Raincoast Conservation Foundation on the matter of uncertainty in the wildlife policy as it existed in 2013. With support from the Victoria Environmental Law Centre and the David Suzuki Foundation, the study got the attention it deserves – and now we await the results of the investigation.

But what, exactly, did that study say? What is uncertainty in the science of ecology, and how does it – or should it – influence wildlife management policy? To answer these questions and walk us through the study, Defender Radio was joined by lead author and Raincoast biologist Kyle Artelle.

Direct download: 2016-06-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

Episode 324: Alberta's Animal Awakening

When the words ‘animal sentience’ and ‘Alberta’ popped up in The Fur-Bearers’ news feeds, we had an office full of cartoonish double-takes. It was revealed last week that the NDP government in the bluest province of the nation is looking to improve their animal welfare standards – and among the changes, there’s indications that they may incorporate laws that recognize non-human animals as sentient beings.

This is a move that Quebec made last year, and other governments around the world have considered or implemented. But Alberta is also the largest livestock producer, and is home to one of the largest annual rodeos in the world. They’re recognized as Canada’s old west, oil-centric, Conservative stronghold. What could animal sentience in Alberta possibly look like?

To find out, Defender Radio connected with Animal Justice executive director and legal expert Camille Labchuk.

Direct download: 2016-06-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

Episode 323: Questioning Zoos

It’s been a bad few weeks for zoo animals in North America. Harambe, a silverback gorilla in the Cincinnatti Zoo, was shot to death after a young child found his way into the large primate’s enclosure. Rebel, a gray wolf at a Wisconsin Zoo, was killed so he could be tested for rabies after a child was bitten on the fingers through a fence while in a restricted area. And at a small petting zoo set up for children in Ontario, animals were left without shelter or water on a sweltering summer day.

As the harsh reality of life in a zoo has started settling upon the North American pop media psyche, familiar questions have started arising: do animals belong in zoos? Aren’t zoos helping conserve endangered species? How else will children learn about animals?

We don’t have the answers to all of these questions – only more questions, really. But to help us ask them of ourselves, and to explain what we can do to improve the lives of animals in zoos, Defender Radio was joined by children’s book author and head of non-profit Zoocheck, Rob Laidlaw.

Direct download: 2016-06-06_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:49pm EDT

Episode 322: Cause & Effect of Conflict

We know that grizzly bears love fish. We know that grizzly bears can come into conflict with people and infrastructure. And now, thanks to researchers at Raincoast Conservation Foundation, we know how those two facts are tied together.

Earlier this month, Raincoast published their study, Ecology of conflict: Marine food supply affects human-wildlife interactions on land, in the journal Scientific Reports. By examining over three decades of conflict-killed grizzly reports, the researchers determined that food availability was the greatest cause of conflict – and that other factors such as hunting or population changes played a much less significant role.

To discuss this study, what it means for policy decisions in the future, and why understanding how important ecological studies are to wildlife management, Defender Radio spoke with the lead author of the study Kyle Artelle, who is a biologist for Raincoast and a Hakai PhD scholar at Simon Fraser University.

Direct download: 2016-05-30_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:47pm EDT

Episode 321: Cull is a four-letter word

Cull is a four-letter word – and that double-meaning is finally becoming more clear. For years, governments and consumptive wildlife users have argued that culls are necessary – be it for protecting game species, land, or to encourage a specific type of behaviour from hunters and trappers.

But science, advocates, and, it seems, even government reports, indicate that these culls are so ineffective that in some cases their effect is a complete 180 from the intended result.

This week, Defender Radio connected with two people who have interesting things to say about culls. First, we’ll hear from Dr. Adrian Treves of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab in the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose recent study has revealed that, in his test area, a cull initiated to reduce poaching of wolves actually increased the illegal hunting.

We’ll also hear from Krista Roessingh of Pacific Wild, one of the groups responsible for a court action against the British Columbia government’s culling of wolves to allegedly protect endangered mountain caribou herds – and the shocking revelations that came as a result of the court case.

Direct download: 2016-05-16_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

Episode 320: Advocacy in Markham

Do compassion and city politics go together? Can we really expect local politicians to do what’s right for the animals, and still balance their duties to their constituents, who the see every day?

If you’re Valerie Burke, you find a way. The City Councillor from Markham has successfully advocated for wildlife in her constituency – including supporting an initiative launched by The Fur-Bearers last year to asking fast food franchises to change the dome lids on beverage containers that have proven disastrous for animals like skunks.

To introduce The Fur-Bearers to the City of Markham and her wildlife advocacy as a politician, Councillor Burke recently joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-05-09_AdvocacyinMarkham.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

Episode 319: #YMMFire Special Report

The wildfires in Fort McMurray this week have destroyed homes and ways of life. And as residents fled as part of mandatory evacuations, the question lingers for everyone watching: will life ever be the same again?

There is little that many of us can do to help those who have lost everything, but donate to organizations like the Red Cross or the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team when able, and offer a consoling hug to someone in need. We can also look around our own homes at times like these, and see the many things that make our lives special – including our pets.

Having plans in place for when emergency strikes is an important step for preventing tragic loss – and today we connected with two different individuals to talk about such plans.

First we’ll hear from Donna Wackerbaur, a member of the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, who has seen firsthand the intensity of the aftermath from wildfires, and understands the need for preparation. We’ll also hear from Louise Liebenberg, a predator friendly rancher at The Graziere in Alberta, who personally lost pets, guardian animals, and livestock during a horrific fire. Building out an emergency plan has been vital for her business, and she shares with us the importance of thinking through contingencies.

Direct download: 2015-05-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:20pm EDT

Episode 318: C-246

In February a private members bill was introduced to the House of Commons by a rookie Liberal MP. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, member for Beaches – East York, stood up and read, for the record, the title of his first bill: C-246. That bill passed first reading without much fanfare, but now, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act is being hotly debated across the country.

From hard right conservatives who are looking for a fight to farmers with legitimate concerns, a range of criticisms has arisen about C-246, how its language on closing criminal code loopholes could impact legitimate and legal animal use, and whether or not there is even a need for such legislation.

The Fur-Bearers are proud to have consulted on the fur-related portions of the bill, and were joined on Defender Radio by its author, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, to discuss the three main components of the legislation, the far-fetched criticisms created by some conservative members, and how supporters can help protect animals by making C-246 law.

Direct download: 2016-04-25_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

Episode 317: Paws for Hope

There are nearly 200 volunteer-run animal rescue organizations in British Columbia. The majority of them do not receive government funding, have little to no full-time staff, and have countless animals depending on them. But there’s hope for them all.

Paws for Hope was founded five years ago in BC with a dream of creating “more sustainable animal welfare and purposeful companion animal protection” in the province.

From providing infrastructure grants to helping street-involved persons or low-income families afford veterinary care, and running educational campaigns about pets to hosting compassion fatigue workshops, Paws for Hope is keeping busy.

Kathy Powelson, the executive director of Paws for Hope, joined Defender Radio to explain the background of this organization, the current campaigns, and where they hope to go in the future.

Direct download: 2016-04-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

Episode 316: The Trophy Hunt Begins

Today the infamous trophy hunt of grizzly bears in British Columbia begins – and it’s no April Fool’s prank. Hunters from around the world will pay for the chance to hunt down one of the province’s most important predators – all for the sake of getting a trophy.

This issue has been covered extensively in past Defender Radio episodes, on our blog, and through traditional media. But today I was joined by two people who see first hand the importance, beauty and wonder of grizzly bears in British Columbia.

Eric and Trish Boyum own and operate Ocean Adventures aboard the Great Bear II – an ecotourism business and wildlife viewing vessel. The two have the opportunity to see beautiful grizzly cubs grow into adults, witness the important role they play in a sensitive ecosystem, and marvel at the incredible diversity of life along the coast of British Columbia. They are also among the first humans to see the travesty of a trophy hunt, and see the emotional and economic impacts.

Eric and Trish joined Defender Radio today to talk about the spring trophy hunt, their business, and why we must all speak for the grizzly bears of British Columbia.

Direct download: 2016-04-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

Episode 315: Herd

They once defined the great prairies of North America. Buffalo herds numbered as high as 50 million animals before European settlement began. And after centuries of devastation, their numbers remain low: no more than 500,000 buffalo remain, many of which are farmed.

In Yellowstone National Park, one of the last wild herds roams – 7,000 some buffalo who want nothing more than to live as they were meant to. But their lives are full of obstacles.

From the impact of ranchers grazing on public lands to outdated and potentially cruel herding techniques, the last buffalo of Yellowstone face dangers most of us would never imagine.

A pending documentary, herd, is set to explore these issues and tell the stories of the buffalo. Currently in its Kickstarter campaign, herd’s trailer shows just how powerful this film might be – the equivalent of what Blackfish did for orcas, or Cowspiracy for livestock. To discuss the project and what’s needed to make it happen, Defender Radio was joined by filmmaker Justin Keitzer.

Direct download: 2016-03-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:29pm EDT

Episode 314: Special Report

Headlines are popping up in Ontario and B.C. alike – dangerous illnesses including distemper and rabies are appearing at rates higher than usual. Though excellent bait programs in Ontario have kept rabies to few isolated cases in past decades, it seems that some animals are hitching rides across the border, and bringing minor outbreaks with them. And in B.C., distemper infamously claimed the lives of four puppies at an SPCA shelter, increasing awareness and fear of the often fatal ailment.

Though these headlines are assisting in the educational campaigns of veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators across the country, some unnecessary worry is growing as well.

To share information about distemper and rabies, what it actually looks like in wildlife and pets, how to reduce the risks of infection, and the absolute importance of vaccination to wild animals, domestic animals, and even humans, we were joined by Dr. Christine Coghlan of Preston Animal Clinic in Cambridge, Ontario.

Direct download: 2016-03-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Episode 313: Fear itself

In the animal kingdom, the power of fear is something no one would question. Fear can impact and control entire populations, affect whole ecosystems, and even change the path of evolution. But is it something we can measure – and once and for all, prove that the role of predators is more than just what they eat?

A new study from Raincoast Conservation Foundation does just that. Led by Raincoast’s ecologist and PhD student Justin Suraci, the team of scientists showed through experiments that the mere presence of predators can impact the behaviour of mesopredators and other species further down the food chain.

By using the sound of dogs barking Suraci and his team validated that fear itself is indeed something to behold.

To talk more about this study, its real world applications, and what it could be mean in future policy planning, Defender Radio was joined by Raincoast’s Justin Suraci.

Direct download: 2016-02-29_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

Episode 312: On the origins of conflict

If there’s one thing the media loves, it’s wild animals attacking humans. It’s got everything: adventure, blood, trauma, and typically, a hunt for the offending animal. There are all kinds of experts to speak with, charts and maps to create, and wonderful ways to play with headlines. They are, of course, making a minor problem worse.

Many of us involved in wildlife advocacy have learned that it’s typically people who are at fault for conflict – be it violent or the flower-eating variety. And there’s a growing body of evidence that indicates just how responsible humans are for conflict with wildlife.

A study published by a group of scientists this month in the journal Scientific Reports highlights some of the major contributing factors to the increase in wildlife conflict with large predators around the world – and the biggest factors lay solely in the opposable-thumbs of the human race.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Vincenzo Penteriani of the Spanish Council of Scientific Research joined Defender Radio to discuss the findings of this group, how we as a species can change our ways for the betterment of wildlife, and what the consequences could be if we don’t.

Direct download: 2016-02-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Episode 311: The advocacy of Dr. Marc Bekoff

Whenever we talk compassionate conservation, ethics, emotions of wildlife, or the benefits of drinking single malt Scotch through a Twizzler, there’s really only one man to call: Dr. Marc Bekoff. And fortunately for us at The Fur-Bearers, Marc has been a good sport and chatted with us regularly on Defender Radio.

Late last week we connected with the best-selling author, blogger, and professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, and nothing was left off the table.

From the trophy hunt in British Columbia to his latest books, and from the "management" of wolves and coyotes in Ontario to how important it is for scientists to become advocates, we covered it all.

Direct download: 2016-02-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

Episode 310: John Marriott Exposed

The trophy hunting of grizzly bears and culling of wolves have been hot topics in the news in recent years, and it’s only heating up. In British Columbia, we’ve partnered with LUSH Cosmetics and numerous conservation groups to let the public know they can formally comment on new policy proposals under the hashtag campaign #LeaveThemInPeace. In Alberta and Ontario, we’re constantly speaking against new policies to make it easier to kill wolves for unscientific and unethical reasons.

And when the world looks to see just who these animals are, they often see them through the eye of wildlife photographer John Marriott.

An accomplished and notable photographer based out of Banff, Alberta, John has donated his beautiful photos to numerous non-profits and sold them to major magazines like National Geographic. He has spent his life refining his craft and become a master story teller with his camera, often giving a unique look inside the lives of animal families deep in the Canadian wild.

He has also recently launched a new web series, appropriately named Exposed, which is already smashing expectations with high viewership and discussion.

To share more about his life as a wildlife photographer, his messages against trophy hunting and cruelty, and what will come next, John joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-01-25_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

Episode 309: The Compassionate Man

From host Michael Howie: I can’t speak for every animal-loving man out there, but when I stand and take a look at a magazine rack, there isn’t a lot for me. I love to cook and eat – but most of the magazines aren’t appropriate for me as a vegan; I like to work out and lift weights, but I don’t want to flip through pages of testosterone-fuelled rage; and pretty much every other lifestyle magazine for men tries to justify the stereotypical masculine status quo – something that I spend most of my time rallying against.

And that’s why I was thrilled to learn about Compassionate Man. As a vegan who has struggled with the realities of what modern culture expects of a man, Nicholas Coughlin found a way to express himself – and create a community for others. His young digital magazine, Compassionate Man, features lifestyle articles on a variety of topics, including cooking and recipes, exercise tips, diet, and interviews with big names like Gene Bauer and Bob Barker.

To talk more about this exciting new magazine and how he hopes to evolve the dialogue of how men view themselves, Nick joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-01-18_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:57pm EDT

Episode 308: Animals in Science

We can’t be sure if you heard the news, but late last year, senate bill S-214 hit the media. It’s a bill that, if passed by both the senate and the House of Commons, would eliminate the use of animals in testing cosmetic products in Canada. We all cheered because it’s a huge win for the animals. But we also had a good think about it – because why are we still testing cosmetics on animals in the second decade of the 21st century?

Sadly, it isn’t just the cosmetics industry that uses animals to test their products in Canada. Everyone from medical researchers to veterinarians to grade 9 biology students are using animals. But they don’t need to.

The Animals in Science Policy Institute is a new non-profit organization that’s sole focus is to provide a “critical and constructive dialogue about the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing in Canada.”

To learn more about this fascinating organization and the important work they’ll be doing, in late December we connected with founding executive director Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy.

Direct download: 2016-01-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

Episode 307: Making a case for animals

Last month there was a lot of hubbub in wildlife and animal welfare circles about two big legal news items: Quebec creating legislation to recognize animals as sentient beings, and the case against a woman whose business is to raise wolves in a petting zoo – then sell their fur when they die.

In our first episode of 2016, we’re bringing you interviews recorded in December that cover both of these important issues.

We’ll hear from Sophie Gaillard, an attorney and campaign coordinator with the Montreal SPCA to discuss changes in the Quebec national assembly, as well as Christopher Berry, an attorney with the US-based Animal Legal Defense Fund to talk about the case against the wolf farmer in Maine.

Direct download: 2016-01-04_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT