Defender Radio and The Switch

Talking about conflict isn’t always easy. Emotions can be high – the sight of a large animal can be unnerving and cause instinctual fear reactions, and the loss of a family pet can be devastating for an entire community. Frequently, the emotional upheaval leads to a desire to find a problem – and a coyote can be an easy target.

Though the science showing the lack of effectiveness of lethal control to prevent conflict is growing, as is the evidence of successful non-lethal, co-existence strategies, there is still a lot of breakdown in communications about coyote conflict. From reporters who simply don’t know there’s a difference between a conflict and an attack, to residents whose heightened fear makes it difficult to see the full ecosystem in their backyard, finding ways to talk about conflict is a challenge all on its own.

Fortunately, we have advocates like Lesley Sampson, the founding executive director of Coyote Watch Canada. To discuss how to pose questions in an investigation into conflict, to considering the range of animals that could have made footprints in the snow, and why we need to see coyotes as an integral part of our communities, Lesley joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-02-27_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

Episode 417: Evolving Ethics for Wildlife Control

What happens when you put 20 international scientists in a room for two days to talk about human-wildlife conflict resolution? You get the seven principles for ethical wildlife control.

The BC SPCA and UBC’s Animal Welfare program (funded by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies) hosted a two-day workshop in 2015, which brought together scientists from around the world to look at these subjects from an international perspective. Out of this workshop came the seven principles for ethical wildlife control.

The paper, which was published this month in the journal Conservation Biology under the title International consensus principles for ethical wildlife control, and is publicly available, does not focus on a single ethical standpoint, or biological function to determine effective, ethical control. It is, according to the authors, the first paper that poses several points to create a framework for control and conflict resolution. It can be boiled down to several questions: Can the problem be mitigated by changing human behavior? Are the harms serious enough to warrant wildlife control? Is the desired outcome clear and achievable, and will it be monitored? Does the proposed method carry the least animal welfare cost and to the fewest animals? Have community values been considered alongside scientific, technical, and practical information? Is the control action part of a systematic, long-term management program? Are the decisions warranted by the specifics of the situation rather than negative labels applied to the animals?

To discuss why we need a framework for ethical decision making in wildlife conflict, how these principles apply in various circumstances, and what a roll out of these guidelines could look like, Defender Radio was joined by co-author of the paper, and chief scientific officer at the BC SPCA, Dr. Sara Dubois.

Direct download: 2017-02-20_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:29pm EDT

Episode 416: Ending the USDA's War on Wildlife

There is a war on wildlife in the United States, waged with federal dollars at the behest of large lobby groups. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but there’s no hiding the nefarious truth about this one. The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, has a small offshoot called the wildlife services program. This division has, for decades, slaughtered wildlife – to the tune of 500 animals per day – across America.

Despite the ongoing rise in scientific evidence pointing toward co-existence as a successful strategy to ending or preventing conflict with wildlife, this wildlife agency continues in its wild west style of management. But standing up for the animals are numerous non-profits, including the WildEarth Guardians.

The group recently updated and re-released their in-depth, solution-oriented report, War on Wildlife, that looks at the Wildlife Services program, and accompanies a new, action-focused website, to help American supporters take action against the killing.

To discuss the report, the history of the USDA’s wildlife services program, and how we can all fight the war on wildlife, Defender Radio was joined by WildEarth Guardians’ Wildlife Co-existence Campaigner, Dr. Michelle Lute, and Carnivore Advocate, Kelly Nokes.

Direct download: 2017-02-14_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT

Episode 415: Saving Seals by the Sea Shore

Culling grey seals on Canada’s east coast will not help the recovery of Atlantic Salmon populations. That’s what the science says in a report prepared for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. But that committee, in opposition to all things good and logical, has said they are recommending the government undertake a cull of grey seals to aid the recovery of wild salmon.

Killing seals on Canada’s east coast for economic purposes – not to be confused with the sustenance hunt undertaken by Inuit communities – is a political hot potato. This latest proposal is without merit, and could in fact have negative impacts on a fish population in recovery.

To talk about this report, her recent Huffington Post blog, what the science really shows about fisheries and seals, and the historic attempts to create an industry out of seal slaughter, Sheryl Fink, Director of Canadian Wildlife Campaigns for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-02-06_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:48am EDT