Defender Radio and The Switch

Let’s start with the obvious: stopping conflict with wildlife before it begins is always our preference. And there’s a lot of ways we can do that, as most conflict occurs when we’ve created a situation that allows for it, often through manipulation of resources. That is, we give food to animals and they say, hey, thanks, can I have some more? Or we knock down their houses and they show up, and say, hey, thanks for inviting us to stay over.

The point is, not giving food to animals, not knocking down their houses, and finding other ways to create coexistence are possible and, as science and history have shown us, work best at stopping conflict. But sometimes it goes a bit further, requiring immediate intervention. And, when the animal in question weighs a few hundred pounds, that intervention can get a little more complicated.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to. In many cases when police or other first responders are faced with managing wildlife like bears, there is a lack of training and tools, which can lead to drastic lethal measures being taken. Sylvia Dolson and the Get Bear Smart Society in Whistler, however, can help these first responders manage bear conflict while keeping themselves – and the bears - safe.

To discuss how she and her colleagues train police, what kind of methods are employed, why tranquilizing isn’t always ideal, and how we can all learn to get a bit smarter about bears, Sylvia joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-05-29_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

Given that it’s a three-day weekend here in Canada, and people away, outdoors, and generally not in their offices. Next weekend it’s Memorial Day for our friends south of the 49th, which means they’ll be away, outdoors, and generally not in their offices. Rather than try to force an interview, or rush one that isn’t quite ready, we thought this would be a good time for host Michael Howie to sit, think, and record something more of a rant, and a little glibber, then you’re probably used to with this show.

Michael’s background is journalism, and his journey into learning about wildlife started when a lot of other reporters stopped asking questions – finding sources to speak on behalf of the animals in stories, pursuing the facts behind witness accounts of conflict, and avoiding sensationalism became vital in his work.

But all of those negative things seen in wildlife reporting, including sensationalism, fast but inaccurate or incomplete reporting, and a lot of assumptions, can put the animals, and readers, at risk. Join Defender Radio for a special long weekend episode on media, sensationalism, and how it’s all of our responsibility to get it right.

Direct download: 2017-05-22_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

When we hear the word “compassionate” paired with non-human animals, our first thoughts often go to Dr. Marc Bekoff. A highly-esteemed field biologist, animal behaviour researcher, author, and speaker, Marc has penned multiple books, essays, and papers on concepts of compassionate conservation, compassion choices, and the sentience of animals with whom we share the world. Marc, along with bio-ethicist and past collaborator Jessica Pierce, have released a new book, The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age.

This book, which is reviewed at, takes readers on a journey of knowledge showing why, to truly provide freedom for non-human animals, we must ask ourselves hard questions around topics involving food, medical research, entertainment, and, of course, wildlife and the environment. Marc and Jessica set out a clear path away from what they hypothesize is the failure of animal welfare and toward animal well-being, as well as why science, which has illustrated the sentience, and deep emotional lives of many animals, has not produced more obvious changes in our society.

To discuss this recent book, and walk through some of the amusing anecdotes, at times uncomfortable questions, and possible solutions to moving toward an age of compassion for all living beings that they labelled as the Compassionocene, Marc joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-05-15_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

Bif Naked is a Canadian rock star, author, cancer survivor, and social and animal advocate. Her music career, which spans more than 20 years and includes multiple hit singles and extensive tours, made her a household name – but her advocacy has made her an icon.

From speaking out for fair treatment in the welfare system for British Columbians to advocating for a fur-free Canada filled with co-existence, Bif is always ready to stand for what’s right. Our interview was scheduled to talk about the launch of the paperback edition of her popular book, I Bificus, and update us on her busy life of advocacy and music.

But her one-on-one, candid interview with Defender Radio wound its way through finding hope while recovering from cancer, understanding how she looks at a world that sometimes is filled with darkness, how she looks at making compassionate choices, and answering a slew of questions from the Defender Radio audience.

Direct download: 2017-05-08_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:22pm EDT

On January 10, 2017, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. While I do have my personal feelings about the man that I cannot in good conscience share on this family-friendly podcast, it cannot be said that he is a friend of the animals. Immediately upon his winning of the 2016 election, animal advocates began scrambling – and within the first weeks of his presidency, their nightmares started coming true. Massive cuts to environmental and animal-related federal budgets, the reversal of protection laws, and censoring of both science and advocacy within federal agencies.

In this Age of Trump, animal advocacy in the United States has taken on a new urgency, and how that will eventually impact wildlife and our environment is yet to be seen. But that will not halt the work of groups like the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The ALDF’s campaigns focus on a variety of animal-related issues, including the worrisome case of Tony the Tiger, who lives in a roadside cage, fighting against cruel puppy mills, and the onslaught of so-called ag-gag laws. To discuss these campaigns, and how this new, unpredictable age of Presidential politics will impact them, Defender Radio was joined by ALDF senior attorney Anthony Eliseuson.

Direct download: 2017-05-01_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:33pm EDT