Defender Radio and The Switch

There’s no interview this week but I do want to share with you a brief version of the 20-year history behind The Fur-Bearers’ quest to regain charitable status and what that could mean for the animals and for you!

Here are some relevant links:

Donate Now:

Intuit Tax Article:

Defender Radio Facebook:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_708.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT

We’ve all been angry at a situation and let it out on social media. It makes sense: that’s a place our friends and community can gather from afar and acknowledge our feelings and join in the process of venting. The trouble these days, however, seems to be when that’s all we do when we have legitimate concerns about policies or the actions of others, particularly those in a position of authority.

When it comes to complaining, there’s not necessarily a right way, but there certainly are effective ways, especially when we want to see change as a result of our concerns. Whether it’s someone trespassing on property, a community member feeding wildlife inappropriately or a complaint about how a public official conducted themselves, it’s important to understand that without proper communication, little may change.

That’s why I connected with Bryce Casavant, the former Conservation Officer who faced disciplinary action for refusing to kill two innocent bear cubs. With his mixed background of military and law enforcement, as well as his PhD studies at Royal Rhodes and new role with Pacific Wild, Bryce was the ideal candidate for this interview. We discussed government complaints processes, how and when the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act can be utilized, and the reality that many people in our communities may face very real fears or wade through the tides of others’ privilege to exercise their rights. 

Pacific Wild:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_707_Bryce_Casavant_Complaints.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT

Tim Gordon is an Exeter University PhD student working on some fascinating solutions to help fish on coral reefs in Australia using sound. As cool as this research is, that’s not what brought Tim’s work to my attention: it was a short letter published in the journal Science. Titled, Grieving environmental scientists need support, Gordon co-wrote the letter with colleagues Andrew Radford and Stephen Simpson. It is a call for cultural change in the scientific community. Researchers are witnessing the loss of ecosystems and species, something that can cause anyone to experience grief. But traditionally, scientists are considered impartial and dispassionate observers. This dissonance can be outright harmful, and Gordon and his colleagues believe the scientific community must begin discussing and addressing these problems – or as he puts it, allowing scientists to cry.

Tim joined me all the way from the northeastern coast of Australia to share his views on the subject, his personal efforts to live with the heavy emotions he feels working on the great barrier reef as its existence hangs in the balance and, because I was curious, how he’s helping Nemo find his way home.

Read 'Grieving environmental scientists need support':

Tim Gordon's Exeter University page:

"Helping Nemo Find Home" three-minute thesis video:

Crisis Services Canada:

Suicide Prevention (USA):

Defender Radio Patreon:


Direct download: Defender_Radio_706_Ecological_Grief_Tim_Gordon.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

Bears are hungry. Like super duper hungry. This time of year they’re getting ready for hibernation and are spending most of their time getting all the calories they can – and that means it’s extra important to manage attractants and do what we can to keep them from hanging out in our neighbourhoods. Even if we individually like having the bears in our yards, other neighbours may not – and having them grow comfortable around people can and will lead to other conflict. And despite available solutions, in BC it often means they are killed by conservation officers.

The North Shore Black Bear Society is working tirelessly within their community and others in BC to get municipal by-laws in place and push for greater education and enforcement from governments. Their own work on education is also impressive, including traditional and social media, classroom visits and more. To help us understand what bears are up to, the importance of changing our behaviours to protect them, and what attractants we may not be thinking about this time of year, Luci Cadman of the North Shore Black Bear Society joined Defender Radio.

Learn more about North Shore Black Bear Society:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_705_North_Shore_Black_Bears_Luci_Cadman.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

We need change in how we view wildlife and the management of species and their homes. Outdated science and traditions need to be updated with current data and effective traditional ecological knowledge. But how do we start?

With a paradigm shift – and that’s what the Cochrane Research Institute and Cochrane Ecological Institute are hoping to create with their Wilderness Wildlife and Human Interaction Symposium. Taking place Saturday, November 2 at the Cochrane RancheHouse, this one day event features speakers including Dr. Gilbert Proulx, Bryce Casavant, Joe Englehart, Lesley Fox (my boss) and others. There will also be a documentary viewing, an artisan market, silent auction, book signings and more. It’s going to be a great day – and to help share more about why the symposium is needed, what visitors can expect to take away and what inspiring change really means Defender Radio was joined by Cochrane Ecological Institute spokesperson Lisa Dahlseide.


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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_704_Wilderness_Wildlife_and_Human_Interaction.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 1:49pm EDT

This episode is later than originally anticipated – between human and canine health issues and some technical whoopsies, things got delayed. And before we get into it, I want to let you know that JoAnne and I get into some heavy conversation about compassion fatigue and the emotional weight of advocacy work. If that isn’t something you’re up for – no problem! Please know that there are many available resources to help manage self-care, compassion fatigue, and other emotional or mental-health related topics. Start by talking to your doctor, caregiver, or Googling what local resources exist in your municipality or county.

Now let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Photographs tell stories. Some of them are funny, some sad, some tragic, some a mixture of many emotions. Regardless of what story is being told, photography has a way of getting to people when words have failed. And that’s why We Animals Media matters.

Through a variety of storytelling methods – including founder Jo-Anne McArthur’s incredible photography and photojournalism – We Animals Media is a home for a catalogue accessible to traditional media, advocates, and everyone in between. It’s also the site of exciting new projects – like a We Animals masterclass, book sales, mentorships, and really, more than I can say in a short introduction.

I was thrilled to chat with Jo-Anne about the history of We Animals, the current projects she’s developing with a growing team, and what the future holds for the world’s premiere animal advocacy storytellers.

We Animals Media:

Defender Radio Patreon:


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_703_We_Animals_Media_Jo-Anne_McArthur.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

The Ontario government is considering liberalizing wolf and coyote hunting in Northern Ontario in a bid to increase moose hunting opportunities. But their own science and facts indicate that killing more wolves and coyotes won’t have the impact they want – making this an entirely political policy.

This issue isn’t just about wolves and coyotes and moose; it’s about understanding what is being said by those affected in Northern Ontario by the climate crisis and a rapidly changing ecosystem. It’s about learning to bring science to story and story to science to ensure that we’re doing what’s best for people in Ontario, as well as the individual animals and infinitely complex ecosystem that we all share.

To dive into the policy, the history, the science, and the difficult ethical conversations, Defender Radio was joined by Hannah Barron, Director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns for Earthroots.


Earthroots website:

Defender Radio Patreon:

Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_702_Wolves_Coyotes_Ontario.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

What is compassionate conservation? How can teaching today’s students the tenets of this movement affect government decisions tomorrow? And why does it matter in the end? All these questions and more are discussed with UBC professor and researcher Dr. Kristen Walker on the first episode of Defender Radio’s seventh season!

Join the Defender Radio Patreon:

Sign up to get email alerts from The Fur-Bearers:

Dr. Walker's reading list:

Bekoff, M. 2013. Ignoring Nature No More – The Case for Compassionate Conservation. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Wallach et al. 2018 Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13126

Fraser, D. 2010. Towards a synthesis of conservation and animal welfare science. Animal Welfare 19: 121-124. 

Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_701_Compassionate_Conservation.mp3
Category:Season 07 -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

How do you grow empathy and protect the future non-human animals in a part of the world most people will never visit? One company has the answer – and the science to back it up.

Krikey, a mobile gaming company founded by Jhvani and Ketaki Shriram, recently partnered with The Ellen Fund to launch Gorillas!, a 3D, augmented reality game that allows people to learn about the lives of critically endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. What makes this fascinating is not just the adorable graphics and enjoyable gaming aspect, but that it’s backed by scientific evidence that indicates the augmented reality experience actually grows empathy in adults.

Despite my best efforts, I am unable to succinctly explain the various aspects of what Jhvani and Ketaki have created with Krikey, so let’s dive into the interview with these two incredible people and hear why I’m telling people that they may have developed one of the tools that could actually change the hearts and minds of humankind.

Direct download: Defender_Radio_628_Krikey_Gorilla_AR.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

As many of you know, I’m a dog guy. I share my home with JJ the Hamilton Hound, who you’ll often hear clicking around and bringing me toys while I’m interviewing folks. And as you may also know, I’m a huge fan of Dr. Marc Bekoff. He’s a prolific author, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, and as an ethologist has incredible experience, wisdom, and insight into the animals around us. Along with his friend and regular writing partner Dr. Jessica Pierce, Marc co-authored Unleashing Your Dog: A field guide to giving your canine companion the best life possible.

I’m describing this book as the book anyone should read before they read a dog training book – because this isn’t a dog training book. Unleashing Your Dog examines our relationships with dogs and challenges us to give our dogs what they need to truly be who they are while living in a human world. Marc joined Defender Radio to discuss the motivations for the book, how we can all use the tools of ethology to learn more about the non-human animals in our lives, and what exactly unleashing your dog means.

Get your copy of Unleashing Your Dog:

Learn more about Marc:

Read Marc's Psychology Today blog:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_627_Marc_Bekoff_Unleash_Dogs.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

Bears are dying in British Columbia as spring turns to summer. I’d like to have a cute, chipper way of introducing this interview, but that’s the sad fact. Largely due to poor attractant management, bears wander into communities in search of easy meals, an inconsistent response from various residents results in their ongoing presence in the community, and, eventually, it often leads to conservation officers killing the bear for alleged habituation.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Luci Cadman of the North Shore Black Bear Society in British Columbia works tirelessly to educate communities and push for enforcement of existing by-laws regarding attractants and human behaviour that leads to these conflicts.  She joined Defender Radio to discuss the reality of living near bears, the things individuals and whole communities can do to stop the killing, and why this isn’t a bear issue, but a human one.

North Shore Black Bear Society:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_626_BCs_Bears_Human_Problem.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 10:33pm EDT

Cats love to climb, jump, pounce, and play. Unfortunately, they often want to do this outside, where those skills help them kill wildlife and birds in large numbers and are exposed to innumerous risks to their well-being. It’s not fair to tell cats they can’t be who they are, and it isn’t exactly fair to let them be at risk of causing damage or being injured.

There is, however, a middle ground: catios.

The BC SPCA recently hosted a tour of catios in the Vancouver region with great success and are strong proponents of people giving cats a safe way to live their lives and engage their behaviours fully. Marieke van der Velden , an outreach specialist for the BC SPCA joined Defender Radio to share the secrets of catios and how easily cat lovers can build or buy them for their furry friends.

Learn more about catios:

Join the Defender Radio Patreon:

Check out The Young Defenders:

Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_625_Catios_BC_SPCA_.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 4:44pm EDT

Mountain caribou are endangered in British Columbia. It’s a big deal: the federal government has threatened to intervene if plans aren’t put in place to protect them. One plan, worked on heavily by First Nations leaders, is receiving praise. But the plan for at least one other region has huge holes and fails to address some key issues.

While protecting caribou habitat may seem like a straight-forward task, the previous BC provincial government run in a majority by the Liberals and the current government run by an NDP-Green partnership is showing that it’s anything but.

From literally selling the rights to cut down trees in the habitat of the endangered caribou during negotiations to killing wolves despite widespread scientific and ethical opposition to a disturbing rise in racist comments and economic disinformation, it’s been a bit of a confusing journey.

As the consultation period winds down – and links to actions on that are included in this week’s show notes – I wanted to take some time to break out the points, challenge the myths, and hear opposing opinions to what industry and politicians have spouted. That’s why we connected with Charlotte Dawe, Conservation and Campaign Manager for Wilderness Committee, who patiently listened to my tangents and walked me through the last year of work on this campaign and how you can be part of the solution.

Take action:

Defender Radio Patreon:

Articles mentioned:

Agreements mark ‘turning point’ for six B.C. caribou herds, but leave most herds hanging

500 dead wolves vs. 500 lost jobs: Town balks at potential cost of saving caribou in northeastern B.C.

Northern B.C. leaders pressure province to halt caribou plans

Caribou protection plan spawns racist backlash in northeast B.C.

West Moberly First Nations chief denounces 'fear mongering' over caribou protection plan

The 0.1% that trappers contribute to nature-based economics


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_624_Mountain_Caribou_Charlotte_Dawe.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

The Fur-Bearers and Defender Radio are proud to announce the launch of a new project: The Young Defenders, a site and podcast to help youth Defend The Future Of Wildlife And The Environment Through Education, Communication and Kindness.


Young Defenders Facebook:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_623_Young_Defenders_intro.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 2:45pm EDT

PJ is the Director of Fashion Policy at the Humane Society of the United States and has played a major role in getting big brands like Armani to drop fur and institute fur-free policies. We had a wonderful conversation about fur, policy, the historic context of the current fight to #MakeFurHistory, and how his method has proven successful. We even got into self-care and what solutions exist for every advocate who wants to see an end to the use of fur in fashion.

Find out more about PJ's work with HSUS at:

Become a Defender Radio Patron at:

Defender Radio Facebook page:


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_622_PJ_Smith_Fur_Fashion.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT

Defender Radio host Michael Howie spent four days in Belleville, Ontario, where a nearly year-long process to protect beavers after one was found in a trapped reached its conclusion. The interviews included in this episode were recorded in the field with local residents, political leaders, and the inventor of the Beaver Deceiver himself, Skip Lisle.

To donate to The Fur-Bearers' beaver campaign go to:

To Read more about The Fur-Bearers' involvement and see more photos from the field, go to:

To become a support of Defender Radio for as little as $0.25 per episode, go to:


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_621_Belleville_Beavers.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 6:07pm EDT

Host Michael Howie shares the news that Defender Radio has reached 100,000 downloads, and gets a surprise midway through recording!

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_620_100_000_Downloads.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

It’s the Easter long weekend and you know what that means – bunnies, chicks and other little critters are being discussed, if not bought, as presents. But as many of you know, little animals aren’t just gifts, they’re sentient beings who are a lifetime commitment, require love, patience, veterinary care, and many other things.

A while back I spoke with my friend Lisa Winn from the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary about the subject of bunnies – not just why they shouldn’t be bought and sold as gifts, but what it means to accept a rabbit into your home and family. It was a great interview, so rather than try and remake something special, it made sense to share the original interview again.

Please enjoy past me talking to past Lisa about the future of having a bunny in your family. 

Featured on this episode's cover art: Marcel the bunny.

Check out Ladybird Animal Sanctuary:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_619_Ladybird_Animal_Sanctuary_Bunnies.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 6:14pm EDT

Have you ever looked over at your dog and cat and wondered, “Are they happy?” If you’re like me, you probably have. But have you ever asked deeper questions, like are they fulfilled, how do they view themselves in relation to the world, and do they consider life after death? I have, but I think it was 4 am on a Tuesday morning and I’d been up for 23 hours.

But that’s what ethicists do, sometimes: they ask hard questions. And Dr. David Peña-Guzmán asked one that I have in all honesty never even considered: can nonhuman animals commit suicide? As an ethicist and associate professor of humanities and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State university, it’s David’s job to ask those questions, which he addresses in his paper Can nonhuman animals commit suicide? What he may not have been prepared for was putting his brilliant paper on the subject in front of me, then dealing with me peppering him with questions for over an hour. And some of these questions: not my best.

But Professor Peña-Guzmán put up with them all and we spent more than an hour discussing his paper, the implications of increased awareness in the realm of animal cognition and sentience, and a whole bunch of rambling from me. It was a ton of fun – David even said so in a follow up email that I choose to believe was in no way sarcastic.

Read the paper: Can nonhuman animals commit suicide?

Join the Defender Radio Patreon

Suicide Prevention / Call Centre (Canada):

Suicide Prevention / Call Centre (United States): 


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_618_David_Pena-Guzman_Suicide.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 7:29pm EDT

The idea of a west coast seal and sea lion hunt or cull popped up earlier this year. It seemed a bit strange, but that perhaps there was some internal logic: killing seals and sea lions who eat fish could help the beleaguered transient and at risk Orca populations, ensure that fish stocks remain healthy enough for commercial use, and maybe exploit a new market for seal and sea lion -based products. But that’s not how science works. In fact, based on some research and the interview you’re about to hear, it seems that killing seals and sea lions would make things worse for Orca populations, potentially create new competition for commercially harvested fish, and cost tax payers millions in attempts to force a new market. Add on top of that the fact that all of this has been looked at on Canada’s east coast – and the millions sunk into that industry have yielded none of the desired results.

I wanted to talk to an expert about this, so I called up my good friend Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who has spent the better part of two decades defending Canada’s seals from exploitation.

The blog we talk about:

Solid news coverage of the west coast proposal:

Shery's IFAW page:

Defender Radio Patreon:


Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_617_Sheryl_Fink_Seals_Sea_Lions.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT

The science is pretty straight forward when it comes to rehabilitating grizzly bears: it works, and they’re not more likely to come into conflict as a result of rehabilitation. But that hasn’t stopped the Alberta government from continuing to prevent qualified rehabilitators from taking in grizzly cubs – despite the fact that it’s an acceptable and frequent practice one province over in British Columbia, and various other places in Canada and around the world.

Understanding this decision means looking at what grizzly rehabilitation includes, breaking down the government and anti-rehab arguments, and exploring the available science. There’s no one better than biologist Lisa Dahlseide, who helped lead the charge to defeat unscientific policies that prevented black bears and other species from being rehabilitated in Alberta. She joined Defender Radio last week to share her knowledge and analysis.

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_616_Lisa_Dahlseide_Grizzly_Rehab.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

If you read enough headlines about the environment and wildlife, it won’t be long until you see one like ‘kill wolves to protect endangered caribou.’ In simple terms, the suggested actions by some government-funded researchers or those with a vested interest in killing animals makes sense: if we remove the predator or competition, the population of an animal targeted for conservation will increase.  But that’s not how things work in the real world – particularly when policy writers and elected officials ignore overwhelming scientific evidence and focus on easy answers that won’t have a lasting positive impact.

Charlotte Dawe, a campaigner with Wilderness Committee penned an outstanding article on this issue for The Straight, an online magazine recently, and joined Defender Radio to discuss the concept of killing animals to save animals, science-informed decision making, and how we can all be part of lasting, compassionate solutions for the environment.

More on Wilderness Committee:

The Straight Article by Charlotte Dawe:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_615_Killing_Animals_to_Save_Animals.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 10:07pm EDT

John E. Marriott has taken some of the most breathtaking photos of wildlife that I have ever seen. He’s the keynote speaker at The Fur-Bearers gala event including the Clements Awards on March 30, and he’s been a regular on Defender Radio sharing stories about his adventures, ethical wildlife photography, and conservation.

In his latest episode of the popular web series Exposed With John E. Marriott, John tackles snares – the cruel devices responsible for killing wolves, coyotes, and countless other non-target species across Canada.

To discuss the episode, what he’s learned about government regulation on snares, and why every animal lover should be concerned, John joined Defender Radio.

EXPOSED website:

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_614_John_Marriott_Snares.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

Boss’ story is similar to many others we’ve heard this trapping season, but he was one of the few lucky ones. While on a walk with his guardian near his home in British Columbia, Boss was lured to a baited snare and became entangled. Fortunately, he was able to get loose – but the event injured him and has shaken his family. Now they’re asking questions like why is trapping taking place on a trail that’s listed on tourism websites, and why there were no signs indicating that active, baited traps were in the area.

Amanda Duke joined Defender Radio to share her emotional story about almost losing her companion, and the questions she’s asking.

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_613_Boss_Snare_Story.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

Not long ago, Kimberly Ross and her family lost their beloved companion Titus to a legally set snare. This episode features an emotional interview with Kimberly.

If you are unable or choose not to listen, I understand – but I do ask that you click on the links in our blog or show notes, or head to to take action on banning these horrible, inhumane devices. Snares are legal across Canada, and as you will hear, can be set without warning and without setback from publicly accessible recreation areas, property lines, and natural place.

Kimberly spoke with Defender Radio about her family’s experience losing Titus to one of these cruel devices, and how she hopes her story will save the lives of other pets.

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Direct download: Defender_Radio_Podcast_612_Titus_Snares.mp3
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT

One year ago today, I spoke about hope in a video like this. It's been a long year, with loss and pain, but I know together we can make change for ourselves, and the world.

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Direct download: 2019-01-03_Take01.mp4
Category:Season 06 -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT