Defender Radio and The Switch

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.

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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?

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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.

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