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From the impact of ranchers grazing on public lands to outdated and potentially cruel herding techniques, the last buffalo of Yellowstone face dangers most of us would never imagine.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