Defender Radio and The Switch
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