Defender Radio and The Switch (Season 04)

Going green is a good idea.There aren't many people who don't want to see a more sustainable world that lessens our impact on the planet, habitats, ecosystems, and individual animals, regardless of political affiliations. But how to get there – and what will or won’t work – remains controversial.

Curbing greenhouse gas emissions elicits a highly politicized conversation, with sides across the political spectrum using misinformation and disinformation to push for their own plans – and undermine those of their opponents.

The questions must become what actions are available and are practical for all political parties, how industries can transform without costing working families their livelihoods, and what we can do as individuals on a day to day basis. To help talk about these important questions, Defender Radio was joined by an authority on the politics of going green: Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Direct download: 2017-10-30_DefenderRadioPodcast_-_ElizabethMay.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:56pm EDT

This story started with necessity too – Canadian Football player James Yurichuk was moving his family from tepid Vancouver to brisk Toronto, and wanted to buy his wife a nice winter coat to help with the transition. But there was a problem: they were all filled with goose down and lined with coyote fur.

From that simple necessity grew conversations with childhood friend Anthony DeBartolo, ideas and sketches, and a vision for an ethical, compassionate company. Fast forward a few years, and Wully Outerwear is creating high-performance, animal-free jackets that are competing in the marketplace – and growing in popularity every day.

The story of Wully Outerwear started in a small Ontario town hockey rink, and today is saving the lives of thousands of animals. To share their journey and explore their motivations, hopes, and what’s next for the made-in-Canada company, Defender Radio was joined by co-founders James Yurichuk and Anthony DeBartolo.

Direct download: 2017-10-23_DefenderRadioPodcast-WullyOuterwear.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:17pm EDT

Poisons that cause extreme suffering and death are being used to cruelly kill wolves. But there’s an opportunity to get at least one of them out of our country. Strychnine, Compound 1080, and M-44 cyanide devices are all used in Alberta to kill wolves – and anything else that comes into contact with them. Some of these poisons are also used in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Several permits that allow the use of Strychnine in Alberta are set to expire in December 2017, creating a unique opportunity to outlaw these disturbing agents of death, and raise awareness of the plight facing not only wolves, but all manner of carnivores targeted with these poisons through baiting.

To understand why these poisons are being used, what other solutions exist for managing livestock conflict and protecting at-risk species, and how we can be part of the change, Defender Radio was joined by Sadie Parr, Executive Director of Wolf Awareness Inc.

Direct download: 2017-10-16_DefenderRadioPodcast-WolfPoisonings.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

. It was a day of mixed emotions when we heard that the new NDP-led government in British Columbia would ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears – but still allow them to be killed for the quote meat.

This pack out provision led to a big debate in the media, in comments, and on chatrooms across the province and country. It stood to reason that a good way to find out what people really thought about the hunting of grizzly bears was to ask them. Enter Insights West.

Funded by LUSH Cosmetics and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association, Insights polled a sample of BC residents to get their opinions on grizzly bear hunting. Seventy-four per cent of residents support a ban on all hunting of grizzlies, which is a positive stat, though not surprising. What left me slack jawed was that 58% of self-identified hunters also support a ban on the hunting of all grizzlies.

Immediately, this survey made headlines across the province and spurred even more debate. Throw in a mixture of all the fake news/inaccurate polling/lack of trust in media that has underscored the last 12 months, and the scientifically-valid survey got called into question. That’s why Defender Radio connected with Mario Canseco, the VP of Insights West. Mario discusses what the grizzly bear poll shows, why professional surveys are a valuable tool, and why advocates should be looking to the numbers.

Direct download: 2017-10-10_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:01pm EDT

Between our battles to protect animals, and the seemingly endless stream of terror attacks, natural disasters, and headlines involving Donald Trump, feeling tired isn’t surprising. But it’s important to understand the difference between being a bit tired, and burning out.

With all that’s going on in the world, we thought it was time to talk about mental health with someone who has knowledge of the world of advocacy, as well as the training and expertise to talk about burnout. That’s why we brought Defender Radio host Michael Howie’s wife, Kate Howie, onto the show.

Kate is a concurrent disorders outreach specialist for a health network in Southern Ontario, has an extensive background in counselling on issues like addiction, and an education in sociology and social work. She sat down with Defender Radio to talk about recognizing burnout in ourselves and others, learning the first steps we can take to prevent burnout, and how we can ask for help.

Direct download: 2017-10-03_DefenderRadioPodcast-Burnout.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT

Extreme weather events have wreaked havoc across the southern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, hurricanes have torn apart communities, destroyed infrastructure, and created crises of significant scope for people who call the islands home.

But it isn’t only the people who are suffering. Community animals like cats, dogs, domestic livestock, and working animals who depend on humans can suffer greatly through these incidents, despite the best efforts of their owners or families. Even wildlife, who often are adept at managing through such scenarios, need a helping hand with injury, or accessing resources and shelter. But they have hope in the form of emergency response teams from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW. According to their website, IFAW leads, funds and provides assistance to animal rescue groups to assess disaster situations, formulate plans, and take action. They also provide food, equipment, medical supplies, and emergency expertise to help rescue, provide care, and when safe to do so, reunify pets with their families and/or return wildlife to the wild.

Defender Radio was fortunate to be joined by Res Krebs, a communications expert for IFAW who deployed with emergency response teams to the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this month. In an interview with Defender Radio between planning sessions and his next deployment, Res talked about the emergency response program, what it was like seeing the devastation to the islands and the communities, and how we can all help in recovery efforts and preparedness for the people, and the animals.

Direct download: 2017-09-25_DefenderRadioPodcast-IFAW.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT

A visit to the aquarium or zoo could be magical as a child. Heck, for a lot of adults, it can still be magical. Seeing species from all over the world up close is remarkable. Of course, once we realize that they’re confined in unnatural circumstances, displaying neurotic and self-damaging behaviours, and that their incarceration rarely, if ever, plays a role in true conservation of their species in the wild, the magic fades.

Though many documentaries, non-profits, and passionate advocates are showing that zoos and aquariums are not what we once believed them to be, they still exist – and are sometimes quite popular. But from a total lack of regulation and laws in Ontario leading to alleged acts of cruelty, to the politics and ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity in British Columbia, the fight for the freedom and even the basic welfare of these animals rages on. Animal Justice, a charity that focuses on using legal resources to pass animal legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court, is facing two issues currently. In Ontario, allegations of mistreatment at a roadside zoo, and in British Columbia, advocating on behalf of the animals in a court hearing about the Vancouver Aquarium’s right to keep captive cetaceans.

Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of Animal Justice, joined Defender Radio to talk about both of these cases, the need to create precedent, and how whether we’re in the court room or on our mobile devices, we can all play a role in the legal fight for the animals’ freedom.

Direct download: 2017-09-19_DefenderRadioPodcast_ZoosandAquariums.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:29pm EDT

Defender Radio visited the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, we learned that there are eight native species of turtle in Ontario – and several of them are at-risk. We also learned that there’s a whole lot of dedicated people working exceptionally hard to help turtles. Dr. Sue Carstairs, Executive and Medical Director at the Centre and the Kwartha Turtle Trauma Centre shared her vast knowledge, experience and a tour with the show.

Turtle rehabilitation, surgery, their importance to our ecosystem, why some species are pretty much living dinosaurs, and what 3,000 turtle eggs are doing in plastic kitchen containers in Peterborough were discussed in this recorded Facebook live interview, with an additional 25 minutes not previously heard.

Direct download: 2017-09-12_DefenderRadioPodcastComplete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 8:46pm EDT

Kids are groaning, parents are cheering, and teachers are refilling hip flasks and chocolate drawers: it’s back to school week. While many families will be getting up earlier, shovelling breakfasts down, making lunches, and filling up dry erase boards with extracurriculars, appointments, and school events, there’s one member of our families who may be having a hard time – and they’re on four legs.

Family companions, especially dogs, can struggle with sudden changes to routine or schedules. These changes, from simply leaving the house a bit earlier, to members of the family not being around during the day, to getting walked or fed at a different time, can create stress and anxiety – and those can lead to behavioural problems.

Knowing how to recognize those symptoms and what’s causing them is difficult, but knowing to whom to turn for help, what questions to ask, and what kind of training will be most effective can be just as hard. That’s why Defender Radio reached out to friend, dog behaviour consultant through Fangs But No Fangs, and animal behaviour professor at Durham College, Joan Weston to help all of us get ready to go bark to school.

Direct download: 2017-09-04_DefenderRadioPodcast-BarktoSchool.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:48am EDT

Bad Coyote, the 2013 documentary that purports to explore the state of Atlantic Canadians during a cull of coyotes after the tragic death of folksinger Taylor Mitchell in October 2009, is available to view online.  The documentary was released online as part of the National Film Board’s National Canadian Film Day this year. In the last week, several listeners, supporters of The Fur-Bearers, and friends, contacted the show and The Fur-Bearers to let us know that it was available for online viewing, and that the link was being passed around.

The write-up for Bad Coyote states that it asks if residents’ fears of a new “super species” are justified, or if they’re responding to fear mongering. While many filmmakers would have gone to great lengths to sensationalize beyond the title, writer and director Jason Andrew Young made clear efforts to provide some balance. This was accomplished namely through interviews with Taylor Mitchell’s mother, Emily Mitchell, who advocated for compassion to wildlife and an end to the cull, and Dr. Simon Gadbois, a canid researcher at Dalhousie University.

Though time is given to Dr. Gadbois, frequently his scientific-based statements are cut down to simple soundbites, and, ultimately rejected by the so-called folk logic of those who profit from the exploitation of coyotes, without an opportunity for rebuttal. Even the very question of what exactly happened on October 27, 2009, which led to the death of Ms. Mitchell in hospital the following day, isn’t fully explored – and that’s where our interview with Dr. Simon Gadbois, an opportunity for discussion and in-depth rebuttals, begins on this week’s episode.

Direct download: 2017-08-28_DefenderRadioPodcast-BadCoyote.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Shooting a bear is remarkably easy. You need someone to help you find them, the equipment and knowledge of that equipment to be able to line up the shot, a bit of patience, and then you either push a button – or pull a trigger.

Trish Boyum and her husband Eric own Ocean Adventures, a successful ecotourism business on the coast, and are also advocates for the protection of grizzlies and other wildlife. Trish joined Defender Radio to share her reaction to the announcement on trophy hunting, how her husband confronted armed hunters trying to poach a grizzly bear in a provincial park, and why only one type of shooting has a future for grizzlies in British Columbia.

Direct download: 2017-08-22_DefenderRadioPodcast-Ecotourism-Grizzly-Trophy-Hunting.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

In my experience, when this hunt is discussed, us urban folk from away are dismissed for not understanding what it means to be a Newfoundlander. That’s fair – I don’t know what it’s like to be a part of that culture, which is very rich and distinct. But it’s not just me in Hamilton, or my colleagues in Vancouver, or even a sizable amount of the general population around the world who think the seal hunt is cruel and economically unviable – it’s the very people who call the Rock home that are questioning the industry.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW, conducted a survey of Newfoundlanders earlier this summer, and found that the residents of the Atlantic province have changing views on the economic future of the commercial hunt, as well as their personal connection to it, and own use of seal products.

Sheryl Fink, Director of Wildlife Campaigns for Canada, joined Defender Radio to discuss this survey, the ramifications of what was learned, and what else the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer its people and visitors.

Direct download: 2017-08-14_DefenderRadioPodcast-SealHuntSurvey.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 10:36pm EDT

The scene looks like one painted with the words of Tolkien: moss covered rocks, a babbling brook, various low shrubs, and monstrous trees fill the landscape. The photo I’m describing is this week’s episode art, and was taken by the guest you’ll hear from today. It’s truly beautiful, and exactly what I imagined when we started talking about the Acadian forests of Nova Scotia.

It’s also gone.

Full of biodiversity, hundreds of years old, and filling an ecological role that’s difficult to fully comprehend, the Acadian forests of Atlantic Canada are under attack. Clearcutting, ineffective replanting, backroom politics, and disinformation are creating a hazardous situation that, according to our guest Cliff Seruntine, is hitting the crisis point.

A member of Stop Spraying and Clearcutting Nova Scotia, Cliff says there is less than 1% of the original Acadian Forest left – and it is being cut 20 times faster than it can rejuvenate itself. Cliff joined Defender Radio to discuss the unique ecosystems found in the Acadian Forests, what’s driving the clear cutting, and what ecological and economic solutions exist to replace this dangerous industry.

Direct download: 2017-08-07_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:23pm EDT

Sandra Riches, the BC Coordinator for AdventureSmart, joined Defender Radio to talk selfie safety, the basics of being prepared, and what has led to nearly 1,600 search and rescue operations taking place per year in British Columbia alone.

Direct download: 2017-07-31_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:03am EDT

West coast bears like their fish. I don’t think we really need science to tell us that. But which bears eat what, how much salmon they’re eating, where they’re getting it from, what influence that has on the ecosystems around them, even at great distances from the coast, and how that could all impact management across geopolitical lines - now that’s what science is good at.

Megan Adams, PhD candidate at the University of Victoria, research scholar with the Hakai Institute, and biologist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, recently published a study examining the data associated with some of these questions. That study included samples from over 1,400 grizzly and black bears across 690,000 km2 of BC, from 1995 to 2014.  Adams worked with the Wuikinuxv Nation, as well, adding the importance of traditional knowledge to her research and conclusions.

Megan joined Defender Radio to discuss her recently published paper, why salmon and bear populations should be managed together, the influence her time with the Wuikinuxv Nation has imparted on her work, and what animal lovers and environmentalists need to know to protect the salmon-bear relationship and all that it represents in BC.

Direct download: 2017-07-18_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

At one time, the Vancouver Island Marmot held a comfortable position as a unique rodent in high-altitude meadows on their namesake territory. And then humans came a long, and we all know how that goes. Vast changes to the ecosystems surrounding marmot’s home ranges resulted in a disastrous drop in their populations – down to below 30 marmots at one time.

Thankfully, the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation was formed, and just last week, released their 500th captive bred marmot into the ecosystem. Today there is a more stable population of around 200 marmots living on Vancouver Island, and while there is much work left to be done, things are looking better than ever.

Adam Taylor of the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation joined Defender Radio to celebrate their 500th release, discuss the hard lessons learned about reintroducing these unique rodents in a difficult habitat, and why keeping this small, but genetically separate population of marmots healthy matters.

Direct download: 2017-07-10_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

A quiet announcement made in March stirred the pot – and now it’s brewing up to a storm. In the last week, dozens of wildlife protection non-profits, research groups, and nature-related businesses have clamored for the province to respond to calls for changes to a plan to put the fate of British Columbia’s wildlife in the hands of a hunter-and trapper-funded agency.

Despite pre-election pledges of millions annually to top-up the separate agency, and a now-former MLA’s claims that the government was quote afraid to manage wolves or grizzly bears because of the associated politics, few details have been released to any of the non-consumptive groups. With the hunters and trappers making up only 2% of BC’s population, and non-consumptive activities such as wildlife viewing, and photography generating significant economic stimulus to the province, it is reasonable that nature lovers of all stripes be concerned about what this agency will be – and what it will cost taxpayers, and the animals.

To discuss what this hunter-funded agency could look like, the misconceptions about wildlife science and consumptive users, and what animal lovers in British Columbia and around the world can do, Defender Radio was joined by BC Nature president Dr. Alan Burger.

Direct download: 2017-07-03_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:59pm EDT

Wolves are one of the most majestic creatures on the planet. They’re intelligent, social, and thrilling to watch whether roaming their territory, hunting as a pack, or teaching pups the ins and outs of play. Some people love these animals so much that they want one in their home, and buy wolves bred in captivity, or wolf-dog hybrids. And according to the WOLF Sanctuary in Colorado, that’s when things can go wrong.

More than 100 wolves or wolf-dog hybrids have found a home at the Sanctuary since it opened, and the dedicated staff and volunteers have helped find a safe place for thousands of others. Many of these individuals were born in profit-driven breeding operations, sold to well-meaning and loving families, and ultimately surrendered to the WOLF Sanctuary by owners who were unable to care for an animal that isn’t entirely domestic, and isn’t entirely wild.

Dr. Shelley Coldiron, Executive Director of the WOLF Sanctuary, joined Defender Radio to discuss the difficulties people find in raising wolf-dog hybrids, what special needs they have, the daily operations of running the sanctuary, and the individual personalities, quirks, and lives of the animals in their care.

Direct download: 2017-06-26_Defender_Radio_Podcast_-_WOLF_Sanctuary.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 9:58pm EDT

Wildlife corridors are becoming beautiful and iconic scientific feats that show our ability to co-exist with animals, when we put our minds to it. And the TransCanada Highway through Banff National Park is perhaps the best example of that.

Twinning of the highway – or doubling its width – began in 1981, and with it, a bold plan to make it safer for animals to get across the busy highway. Currently more than 40 corridors of multiple design serve the animals, and the latest research is highlighting the incredible success of the program managed by Parks Canada. Wildlife collisions have reduced by more than 80%, and almost 90% for various ungulates such as deer, moose, and bighorn sheep.

The development of the structures, which have become postcard-esque examples of scientific co-existence, the engineering tasks associated with choosing locations, plant life, and style of crossing, and what it’s like to look back at nearly 30 years of success were discussed with Terry McGuire, Parks Canada veteran, and project coordinator for the new TransCanada Highway Twinning in Yoho National Park.

Direct download: 2017-06-20_DefenderRadioComplete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

Wildlife corridors are becoming beautiful and iconic scientific feats that show our ability to co-exist with animals, when we put our minds to it. And the TransCanada Highway through Banff National Park is perhaps the best example of that.

Twinning of the highway – or doubling its width – began in 1981, and with it, a bold plan to make it safer for animals to get across the busy highway. Currently more than 40 corridors of multiple design serve the animals, and the latest research is highlighting the incredible success of the program managed by Parks Canada. Wildlife collisions have reduced by more than 80%, and almost 90% for various ungulates such as deer, moose, and bighorn sheep.

In 1996, scientists began monitoring the crossings, and that voluminous data set, in addition to other research, shows successful behavioural adaptations, improved or maintained genetic diversity, and a halting to ecological fragmentation. To discuss the monitoring, what scientists are learning, and why the results matter, Defender Radio was joined by Ecological Integrity Monitoring Coordinator for Parks Canada, Derek Petersen.

Direct download: 2017-06-12_DefenderRadioPodcast_WildlifeCorridors.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 1:24pm EDT

Conversations about coyotes can quickly get controversial, particularly in the media. Are they simply another creature trying to care for their families and live life peacefully, or are they menacing charlatans waiting to pluck away what we love most? If you’re listening to this show, chances are you agree with the former, which also happens to be based in fact. But if you read or watch news, or, worse, read social media comments, you’ll know that there’s an awful lot of people who believe the latter is true.

That’s one of the reasons why we need to question the language we use, the way we have conversations, and how we perceive our own and others’ experiences. At the forefront of these difficult questions is Dr. Shelley Alexander of the University of Calgary.

Dr. Alexander has authored, co-authored, and supervised significant studies, including a media content analysis that highlighted the veracity of media bias in reporting on coyote conflict. In a conversation with Defender Radio, Dr. Alexander explores the results of her past studies, discusses the misinterpretation of coyote behaviour, and helps us find the questions we must ask to change the conversations we have about coyotes.

Direct download: 2017-06-06_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:19pm EDT

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

Thousands of protestors in cities across North America marched on the weekend, calling attention to the need for science in society and government. I absolutely loved seeing some of the signs that scientists, educators, and science enthusiasts came up with for their local marches. My personal favourite read: “First they came for the scientists, and the National Park Service said, 'LOL, no' and went rogue and we were all like 'I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance. None of the dystopian novels I’ve read prepared me for this.'”

You can see some of the other ones from protests across the continent in various news reports that I’ve shared on my social media streams:, and Twitter @DefenderRadio.

It feels fitting, too, that this week we’re looking at a solution to a long-standing ethical, environmental, and economic problem that could be solved with science.

A paper titled

Thousands of protestors in cities across North America marched on the weekend, calling attention to the need for science in society and government. I absolutely loved seeing some of the signs that scientists, educators, and science enthusiasts came up with for their local marches, with my personal favourite reading, “First they came for the scientists, and the National Park Service said, “LOL, no” and went rogue and we were all like “I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance. None of the dystopian novels I’ve read prepared me for this.”

You can see some of the other ones from protests across the continent in various news reports that I’ve shared on my social media streams:, and Twitter @DefenderRadio.

It feels fitting, too, that this week we’re looking at a solution to a long-standing ethical, environmental, and economic problem that could be solved with science.

A paper titled “Adaptive use of non-lethal strategies for minimizing wolf-sheep conflict in Idaho” was published in the February edition of the Journal of Mammalogy. It isn’t the first paper or study that’s looked at solutions to ending conflict on livestock grazing lands, but it certainly is expansive and exciting.

Along with biologists, local ranchers, and a United States Department of Agriculture researcher, Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife collected data of depredation and management practices from two similar, yet separate areas of land in the Gem state. What they found confirms, scientifically, what many have said for some time: non-lethal deterrents work better than lethal control, cost less, and save thousands of lives.

To talk more about this incredible study, the findings, the questions that still need to be asked, and what all of this means for a potential end to the war on wildlife, Defenders of Wildlife’s Suzanne Stone joined Defender Radio.

was published in the February edition of the Journal of Mammalogy. It isn’t the first paper or study that’s looked at solutions to ending conflict on livestock grazing lands, but it certainly is expansive and exciting.

Along with biologists, local ranchers, and a United States Department of Agriculture researcher, Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife collected data of depredation and management practices from two similar, yet separate areas of land in the Gem state. What they found confirms, scientifically, what many have said for some time: non-lethal deterrents work better than lethal control, cost less, and save thousands of lives.

To talk more about this incredible study, the findings, the questions that still need to be asked, and what all of this means for a potential end to the war on wildlife, Defenders of Wildlife’s Suzanne Stone joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-04-24_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:45pm EDT

Witnessing the northern lights dance across an open arctic sky, watching a grizzly mother teach her cubs to fish for the first time, and feeling the solitude of a cold morning in the far north may be something few of us will ever experience. But thanks to John Marriott, we’ll get closer than we ever have.

John is an accomplished wildlife photographer, who also leads photography tours across Canada’s wilderness. But in recent years, he’s taken his growing popularity and success and become an advocate for the animals. Most notably, John has started a video web series titled Exposed with John E. Marriott. The combination of incredible videography and photography, along with insightful commentary on the issues related to his subjects (often wolves and bears), creates an experience for viewers that is difficult to describe. His most recent adventure, and the launch of the second season of Exposed, focuses on what he calls Ice Grizzlies – bears who visit a perpetually running stream in the far northern reaches of the Yukon.

John joined Defender Radio to discuss the Exposed series, his latest trip to the Yukon, ethical photography, why advocacy has become an important and rewarding part of his career, and answer questions from the Defender Radio audience.

Direct download: 2017-04-17_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

Easter is around the corner, and for some reason, that means we’ll soon be surrounded by rabbits. Sadly, it isn’t just the stuffed toys or chocolate egg variety, but real, live, fluffy bunnies who are given as pets by well-meaning parents or loved ones.

While bunnies can make wonderful pets, there’s a lot more to raising and giving them a home to them then you might think. The combination of impulse buying from pet shops and the amount of work necessary to keeping a rabbit healthy and happy means many – far too many – end up being sent to live outdoors, where they can wreak havoc on ecosystems, or given up to shelters.

Fortunately, rescues like Ladybird Animal Sanctuary are ready to help bunnies get a second chance. Lisa Winn, co-founder and animal manager for Ladybird Animal Sanctuary, joined Defender Radio to talk about why giving bunnies as gifts can be a bad decision, what goes into giving a rabbit a good, happy home, and why rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the world.

You’ll also hear from my special co-host on this week’s episode, Pigeon! My youngest dog had double knee surgery recently, and while he’s recovering well and feeling good, his displeasure with not being allowed to run around like normal becomes vocal. As a result, he ended up sitting behind the mic as a special co-host of Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-04-08_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 10:19am EDT

It is remarkable how significant an impact people have on the wildlife around them, even if it isn’t always seen. Understanding our role, and what we should do to help animals we see, is also something we’re not too clear on. Fortunately, we do have some wonderful people in our communities who can help.

Wildlife rehabilitators are ready for the influx of injured, orphaned or ill babies they’ll be seeing in the coming weeks – but a growing part of their work is to make sure their community is ready, too. In southern Ontario, registered rehabilitators are also facing the ongoing spread of rabies as distemper, deadly diseases that can ravage the animals. And in regions like Grimsby, the home of Urban Wildlife Care, rapid development is creating problems in areas where animals once lived without ever being seen. These subjects, along with a few interesting anecdotes about a Headstones concert, squirrels that like to mock dogs, and the need to support local rehabbers, were discussed when Defender Radio was joined by Urban Wildlife Care’s Cara Contardi.

Direct download: 2017-04-03_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

The sun is shining, the rain is washing away the last of the snow, and families are hitting the trails and sidewalks with their four-legged companions and that means it’s time for some spring training. Whether you share your home with a young puppy or a senior dog, getting out and reviewing the basics like sit, down, stay, and a good recall (coming when called) is a great idea, both for the safety of your pet, and for building your relationship. Of course, turning these exercises into fun games makes it even more enjoyable.

From lazy hounds to neurotic herders and every type in between, getting to know your furry family member through play and training, and finding ways for them to interact socially in appropriate ways with other dogs and people will make your home a little bit happier. To help us with our spring training, and answer questions from our social media audience, we were joined by dog trainer, and a good friend to both The Fur-Bearers and my own family, Kyla Boyer.

Direct download: 2017-03-27_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:01pm EDT

Steven Wise stood up in a New York court room to make his case last week. It’s something he’s worked toward for years, and so far, the courts haven’t supported his efforts. But Steven knows that his clients need him – because they simply can’t speak for themselves.

Steven is the founder and president of the Non-human Rights Project, and his clients are chimpanzees being kept in confinement. The goal is to get these chimps, individuals of a species that experts have long identified as sentient, emotional, and social, out of cages and into sanctuaries. The case is to appeal the failure of the New York County Supreme Court to issue writs of habeas corpus on behalf of two captive chimpanzees, Tommy and Kiko, who were recently featured in the HBO documentary Unlocking the Cage.

Steven took a break from preparing his arguments last week to join Defender Radio and explain the background of the cases of Tommy, Kiko, and other non-human animals for whom the Non-human Rights Project is speaking, why the law should grant them freedom, and how animal lovers around the world can help.

Direct download: 2017-03-20_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

Raccoons are the enemy, and green bins are the battlefield. At least, that’s how some Torontonians view an ongoing saga between themselves and the furry neighbours that so successfully live in Canada’s largest city.

Attitudes on raccoons in the Greater Toronto Area are split surprisingly evenly, but due to their problem-solving skills the sneaky fur-bearers do make it into the news and even political discussions regularly. And that’s where Dr. Suzanne MacDonald got involved.

Dr. MacDonald, a professor of psychology and biology at York University, helped the city test which new green bin designs would best prevent raccoons from enjoying a feast; and now, she’s trying to determine if the new bins will help the city’s raccoons shed a few pounds, and potentially have smaller litters.

On this week’s episode of Defender Radio, Dr. MacDonald joined us to discuss her fascinating hypotheses on raccoon learning and their potential evolution, as well as how she tests their problem-solving skills, and some practical advice on preventing conflict.

Direct download: 2017-03-13_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:06pm EDT

Spring is in the air. Well, right now it is. Later today, it might be snow. Or hail. Or summer. It’s been a bit hard to tell exactly what to expect in regards to the weather, but one thing is certain – we’re in a season of change.

As the weather changes, we’ll also be seeing changes in the behaviours of all sorts of life – from spiders spinning new webs, to birds stretching their wings and picking up the early worms of 2017. Of course, we’ll also be seeing all kinds of local wildlife scurrying about to find leftovers from beneath the snow, a new mate, or pushing their young out to find their own homes. While it can be wonderful to watch, our influence on these animals can be significant, so understanding who’s doing what, and how we might be affecting them, is vital this time of year.

To talk about this season of change, what we can expect from our furry neighbours, and how to prevent conflict in and around our homes, Defender Radio was joined by Janelle VanderBeek of the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC.

Direct download: 2017-03-06_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 1:08pm EDT

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

Episode 414: Compassionate Communication

Compassion is something we at The Fur-Bearers talk a lot about – but how do we speak with compassion? And, in a world of seemingly massive cultural, social, and political divides, is it worthwhile?

Compassionate communication is a concept that’s been around for some time – it frequently includes the use of self-awareness, empathy, and honest self-expression. In the case of The Fur-Bearers, it is often cited for how we communicate to others our facts and ethical stances on the use of fur, on wildlife conservation, and in the development of a more compassionate – and empathetical – culture.

But it isn’t always easy – we see, hear, and read the harrowing truths of how animals are treated. We’re exposed to systemic hate of races, cultures, and species in the daily news. And we’re also confronted with the realities of confirmation bias, sensationalism, and misinformation mixed in with reliable information. Sorting through all of this – and finding a way to be more compassionate in our communication is a struggle. And that’s why this week we talked with Dr. Carrie Packwood Freeman.

Dr. Freeman is a tenured associate professor of communication at Georgia State University, hosts a radio talk show, and coauthored a report on how the media should be covering animals.

In this open and honest conversation, Dr. Freeman joined Defender Radio to explore topics of communicating across social divides, internet trolls, compassion in times of conflict, and the daily tools we can use to improve our compassionate communications skills.

Direct download: 2017-01-30_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:55pm EDT

Episode 413: Oh, The Places They'll Go

Stopping wildlife conflict, protecting individuals, and ensuring co-existence can be a struggle after development. But it can be a whole lot easier if you incorporate it into the planning stages, and that’s exactly what Dr. Lael Parrott hopes to accomplish.

The UBC professor recently spoke to the Kelowna Capital News about her work in the region to create wildlife corridors as part of the development and expansion of the area, particularly surrounding precious agricultural and natural places. By combining variables such as how individual animal species behave at specific times of year and interact with other variables, with detailed geographic information and other data, then running it all through a computer, Dr. Parrott can reasonably predict how wildlife will react and respond to various planning options.

Her work has impressive potential to mitigate existing conflict, too. In Whistler, Dr. Parrott’s team is using the same system of modelling to determine if electric fencing placed in specific areas on the landscape could reduce bear conflict, and, ultimately, save the lives of animals.

To discuss this fascinating work, the system she uses, and why advocates need to be aware of this modern planning tool for wildlife conflict prevention, Dr. Parrott joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-01-23_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

Episode 412: Don't Fence Me In

The Little Smoky caribou herd is in trouble, and the Alberta government is gearing up for a plan that scientists and advocates claim will only waste money – and could actually harm wildlife populations.

Less than 100 of the ungulates remain, and unless something is done, the population – and the species itself – could disappear from Canada forever. Studies have shown that the greatest risk to the caribou is habitat alteration – primarily from the exploration and exploitation of resources that create roads, carve out seismic lines used for geological surveying, and the general fragmentation of the landscape.

Under the apparently false flag of conservation, the Alberta government has infamously slaughtered hundreds of wolves instead of ending habitat fragmentation. Government reports have shown that the province’s experts don’t think this will save the caribou – only repairing the habitat can do that. But instead of doing the one thing science shows will be successful, the government has launched another plan – to build a fence system to effectively farm caribou. Other ungulates and predators found within this fenced area will be killed, and if the breeding is successful, caribou will be released periodically.

Dr. Gilbert Proulx, an independent scientist and head of Alpha Wildlife Research and Management Limited, has coauthored a paper that takes a critical look at the plan to fence in caribou – and why it will ultimately fail. To discuss this paper, the situation facing the Smoky Mountain caribou, and what the public can do to put a stop to a costly and potentially lethal plan, Dr. Proulx joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2017-01-16_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 5:36pm EDT

Episode 411: Pooches, Perception, and Compassion

If you see a dog sit down and pant, are they smiling, or showing anxiety? If they roll on their back, is it submissive, or simply an ask for a belly rub? And what, possibly, do these questions have to do with how we communicate messages of greater social change?

A conversation on dog behaviour and our perception of it – namely, focused on the upsetting incident of a polar bear killing a dog around the same time a video of a polar bear touching a dog at the same location went viral – was the original purpose of this week’s Defender Radio episode. A discussion of critical thinking, dog behaviour, and perception is, of course, where we started. But in talking with Joan Watson, a dog behaviourist, owner of K9 Shrink, and Animal Behaviour/Ethics instructor at Durham College, a bigger picture started to form.

Could the way we perceive behaviour in dogs, and how we start to understand what our canine companions really need, help us foster compassionate change in other arenas? Could the experiences of learning to exercise empathy in dealing with non-human animal issues show us clues into having better conversations on policy and social reform?

In this last Defender Radio episode of 2016, you’ll find out just how much we can learn from our canine friends, and how Joan Weston helped us ask the right questions that may lead to a better 2017.

Direct download: 2016-12-19_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:21pm EDT

Episode 410: Doug's Story

Jaclyn Penney’s family is in mourning. Their beloved dog, Doug, who had been with them only six months, died in front of Jaclyn’s mother from the unrelenting crush of a snare trap in November. While out for a walk on their dead end, residential street near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Doug wandered only several feet from the side of the road when he activated the snare, quickly killing him.

It is a trauma that no animal should endure. But that day, Jaclyn had to find a way to tell her young son why his friend wasn’t waiting for him when he came home from school.

An interview with the CBC, and hundreds of emails from supporters of The Fur-Bearers, got the attention of the province’s Minister of Environment and Conservation Perry Trimper, whose office reached out to Jaclyn to set up a meeting.

Jaclyn joined Defender Radio to share what was discussed in that meeting, as well as how her family is handling the tragic loss of Doug and trying to move forward.

Direct download: 2016-12-12_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

Episode 409: Finding Shelter

The Rowels family was trying to find a home. But when they arrived in a tiny town in southern Bulgaria, they found their calling: finding homes for street dogs.

The heartwarming story began with Diane and Tony Rowels looking for a change in their family’s life. The couple moved themselves and their children to Rudozem, Bulgaria, where they hoped to perhaps open a café. Instead, they became protectors of street dogs, opened a shelter, and help rehome hundreds of dogs across Europe.

Their story, with its ups and downs, loss and beauty, is told in a documentary directed by a long-time supporter of The Fur-Bearers, Erin Parks. Finding Shelter, the story of the Rudozem Street Dog Rescue, is available now on the iTunes store, with proceeds going to help the dogs. To share with us insight into the Rowels’ family story, the impact they’re making for the dogs, and how wanting to tell the stories of various animal rescues around the world led to focusing on this very special family, Erin Parks joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-12-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT

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

Episode 404: Trophy

Ninety-one percent of people in British Columbia oppose the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, from all demographics and geographic regions. Economic studies have shown that grizzly bear viewing is the future of ecotourism in British Columbia, significantly outperforming the guided hunts. And First Nations people – on whose traditional land many of the hunts take place – are condemning a government that ignores their wishes. But still, the hunt goes on.

And those who lobby for this bloody activity have a new opponent to facedown: LUSH Cosmetics.

The ethical business that has supported many social and environmental causes around the world – including The Fur-Bearers’ #MakeFurHistory campaign – have entered the ring with plans for a knockout punch. Trophy, a documentary presented by LUSH with the vision of their in-house director Inder Nirwan, looks at the issue of grizzly bear trophy hunting across North America, and asks the ultimate question: can we truly justify killing these animals for sport?

On this week’s episode, Defender Radio connected with Douglas Neasloss, Chief Councillor and Resource Stewardship Director of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, to discuss the traditional and economic importance of the grizzly bear to his nation, as well as his experiencing dealing with a provincial government that simply isn’t listening. We also spoke with LUSH Cosmetic’s Inder Nirwan, the director and primary filmmaker behind Trophy

Direct download: 2016-10-31_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Episode 403: The Wolf Policy Paradox

The status of wolves is a contentious subject these days. Between myths and fact, depredation and trophic cascades, it seems that every opinion is equally right, and wrong. It only follows that when it comes to making policy about wolves, that paradox would follow.

A perfect example of this comes from Ontario, where the newly-identified Algonquin Wolf was given threatened status over summer. The genetically unique subspecies of wolf already received protection in Algonquin Provincial Park – but due to the Algonquin wolf’s status, a review of additional protections was in order. On the table for review was a plan to prohibit trapping and hunting in various management units of all wolves, including the not-threatened grey wolf, and coyotes, which can be so morphologically like the Algonquin wolf, only DNA can differentiate the species.

Ultimately, no one was really happy with the government’s decision, including the researcher who spoke with Defender Radio. Hannah Barron, Director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns at Earthroots, joined us to talk Algonquin wolves, science-based conservation, and the failings of poor policy.

Direct download: 2016-10-24_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

Episode 402: The Bear Facts of the Scientific Method

It seems that much of society has lost its grip on what words like facts or theories actually mean, and how they should and shouldn’t be used. It becomes particularly concerning, however, when these words get used incorrectly in popular media or in discussions about policy affecting wildlife and the environment.

Even amongst advocates we see misuse of scientific terms, or arguments that aren’t as strong as they could be due to an inability to properly engage the scientific community.

Fortunately, education is always possible, and that’s why Defender Radio connected with Biologist and doctoral candidate Kyle Artelle to review the bear (get it?) facts of the scientific method.

Direct download: 2016-10-17_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:32pm EDT

Episode 401: Nathaniel's Message of Hope

Though it has been a rough week for animal advocates, I’m very pleased to be starting this new season with a message of hope.

On Wednesday, October 5, Bill C-246 - the Modernizing Animal Protections Act – was defeated in the federal House of Commons. The private members bill, which was put forward by Toronto-area MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, would have updated the criminal code as it relates to bestiality and animal cruelty, banned the importation of shark fins, prohibited the importation and sale of dog and cat fur, and require all fur products to be labelled. Most animal advocates – and many MPs – saw this as a common sense update to outdated laws.

Despite widespread support, the bill was stopped at its second reading – the second phase of a private members’ bill. Parliamentarians voted down the forward progress of the legislation by a margin of 198 to 84, with a number of Liberals and all but one Conservative member saying nay.

Though his bill was defeated, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith remains hopeful that Canada is another step closer to a more compassionate future, and he joined Defender Radio today – less than 48 hours after the vote – to share his message of hope.

Direct download: 2016-10-07_Full.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 2:12pm EDT