Defender Radio and The Switch

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

Episode 332: A Shot In The Dark

The word science is often used as a shield when discussing wildlife policies, particularly management of predators in relation to depredation. Whether it’s governments, lobbyists for hunters and trappers, or even some wildlife protection advocates, the word can get flung around so much you’d think there’s an endless well of studies on the subject.

But there’s a surprisingly small amount of reliable research available – and much of what has been published in journals has significant flaws. That means that, to paraphrase the title of the study we’re discussing today, wildlife management becomes a shot in the dark.

Dr. Adrian Treves of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with his coauthors, published a study earlier this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that looks at the existing science on this subject. Titled Predator Management Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark, Treves and his team reviewed the majority of available studies on the effectiveness of depredation, and their shocking findings led them to recommend a suspension of all “lethal predator control methods that do not currently have rigorous evidence for functional effectiveness in preventing livestock loss until gold-standard tests are completed.”

To talk about his study, the research, and the ramifications he and his team may face for going against the status quo, Defender Radio was joined by Dr. Adrian Treves.

Direct download: 2016-09-12_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

Episode 331: Simply (smelly) skunks

When it comes to skunks, most of us have one of two images in our head. The first is the stinky animal we avoid at all costs. The other… well, the other is a little unrealistic.

The striped predators are surprisingly charming, playful, and loving animals – from a distance. And as a common fur-bearer in urban areas, they can often end up getting into trouble.

Fortunately, there are wildlife rehabilitators like the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby, British Columbia, who are always ready to leap into action to help critters that find themselves injured due to human activity. And to tell us more about skunks – and some of the issues they face this time of year – we were joined by Janelle Vandeerbeek of the WRA.

Direct download: 2016-08-22_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:52pm EDT

Episode 330: Wolves in the crosshairs

Woodland caribou aren’t doing too well in Alberta. Two herds specifically, those in the Little Smoky and A La Peche ranges, are at risk of extirpation, or local extinction. Under federal endangered species legislation, Alberta is required to take action. Sadly, this has put wolves in the crosshairs of poor policy and planning.

Recently, a proposal that would lengthen the campaign of wolf killing in an unscientific attempt to prevent losses to the herds, as well as ignore critical changes to habitat through resource exploitation, was fought by a group of wildlife advocates, headed by Wolf Awareness Inc.

To discuss the natural history of Alberta’s wolves, the potentially disastrous proposal being considered by the province, and what wolf lovers around the world can do to stop it, Defender Radio was joined by Sadie Parr, executive director of Wolf Awareness Inc.

Direct download: 2016-08-15_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

Episode 329: Algonquin's Wolves

The provincial park is home to the Eastern wolf – now often referred to as Algonquin Wolves. These wolves are considered a threatened species and, within the park and a buffer zone, receive protections from hunting and trapping. Given the difficulty in identifying an Algonquin wolf from a coyote or a mix of the two, these protections extend to the similar looking canids.

But studies are showing that as soon as the wolves leave these protective enclaves, be it chasing prey or searching for new territories, they quickly become victims of hunters and trappers. Can select areas of protection truly help restore the Algonquin wolf’s population to healthy levels, or will connected buffers and larger areas of land be necessary?

To talk about the situation facing the Algonquin wolf – as well as Ontario’s coyotes, Defender Radio was joined by Hannah Barron, Director of Wildlife Conservation Campaigns for Earthroots.

Direct download: 2016-08-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

Episode 328: How to rescue BC's rangers

Across BC’s vast landscape is over 14 million hectares of protected lands and provincial parks. Tourists from around the world flock to these beautiful, picturesque destinations, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy.

And there are only seven people to protect it all.

The Wilderness Committee, a BC-based NGO recently sent out a press release that outlined the dire straights of the BC Parks ranger program, noting that there are fewer park rangers than there are critically endangered spotted owls left in the province.

To discuss what this means, what the consequences truly are, and how the public can help rescue the rangers, Defender Radio was joined by Gwen Barlee of The Wilderness Committee.

Direct download: 2016-07-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

Episode 327: Mysterious Marmots

As many as 30 Vancouver Island Marmots are presumed dead after their embedded transmitters failed to activate following their hibernation this spring. The Vancouver-area media picked up on this story and made it national news – after all, people in the area have loved them for years.

But for the rest of Canada, the coverage of 30 missing rodents left us scratching our heads. What are Vancouver Island Marmots? Why are people so interested in them? What makes them different from other marmots all across the country? And what difference would it make if they lived on Vancouver Island or not?

To get answers to these questions and many more, Defender Radio was joined by Adam Taylor, Executive Director of The Marmot Recovery Foundation.

Direct download: 2016-07-04_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

Episode 326: The BS in BSL

From Stubby, the highly decorated canine soldier in World War One, to Pete the Pup, who tagged along with the Little Rascals, pit bull like dogs were once a loyal friend and family pet. But due to media sensationalism, reactionary politics, and crippling bias, they are being outlawed and ostracized.

Recently, communities within Quebec and La Belle Province itself have proposed numerous actions they say will protect citizens from dangerous dogs – but most of these actions are simply breed specific legislation. Defender Radio was today joined by two special guests – Anita Kapuscinska of the Montreal SPCA to speak about legislation in Quebec, and Dr. Karen Overall, a veterinary specialist and researcher, to discuss myths and facts about dogs and pit bull-like dogs around the world.

Direct download: 2016-06-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:15pm EDT

Episode 325: Uncertainty, certainly

We began to tentatively celebrate when earlier this month the Auditor General of British Columbia revealed there would be an investigation into the trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

The exact notification, found on the AG website, read the investigation would be to, “determine if the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are effectively managing the grizzly bear population in BC.”

The announcement is a result of the AG’s office seeing a peer-reviewed study conducted by our friends at Raincoast Conservation Foundation on the matter of uncertainty in the wildlife policy as it existed in 2013. With support from the Victoria Environmental Law Centre and the David Suzuki Foundation, the study got the attention it deserves – and now we await the results of the investigation.

But what, exactly, did that study say? What is uncertainty in the science of ecology, and how does it – or should it – influence wildlife management policy? To answer these questions and walk us through the study, Defender Radio was joined by lead author and Raincoast biologist Kyle Artelle.

Direct download: 2016-06-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

Episode 324: Alberta's Animal Awakening

When the words ‘animal sentience’ and ‘Alberta’ popped up in The Fur-Bearers’ news feeds, we had an office full of cartoonish double-takes. It was revealed last week that the NDP government in the bluest province of the nation is looking to improve their animal welfare standards – and among the changes, there’s indications that they may incorporate laws that recognize non-human animals as sentient beings.

This is a move that Quebec made last year, and other governments around the world have considered or implemented. But Alberta is also the largest livestock producer, and is home to one of the largest annual rodeos in the world. They’re recognized as Canada’s old west, oil-centric, Conservative stronghold. What could animal sentience in Alberta possibly look like?

To find out, Defender Radio connected with Animal Justice executive director and legal expert Camille Labchuk.

Direct download: 2016-06-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

Episode 323: Questioning Zoos

It’s been a bad few weeks for zoo animals in North America. Harambe, a silverback gorilla in the Cincinnatti Zoo, was shot to death after a young child found his way into the large primate’s enclosure. Rebel, a gray wolf at a Wisconsin Zoo, was killed so he could be tested for rabies after a child was bitten on the fingers through a fence while in a restricted area. And at a small petting zoo set up for children in Ontario, animals were left without shelter or water on a sweltering summer day.

As the harsh reality of life in a zoo has started settling upon the North American pop media psyche, familiar questions have started arising: do animals belong in zoos? Aren’t zoos helping conserve endangered species? How else will children learn about animals?

We don’t have the answers to all of these questions – only more questions, really. But to help us ask them of ourselves, and to explain what we can do to improve the lives of animals in zoos, Defender Radio was joined by children’s book author and head of non-profit Zoocheck, Rob Laidlaw.

Direct download: 2016-06-06_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:49pm EDT

Episode 322: Cause & Effect of Conflict

We know that grizzly bears love fish. We know that grizzly bears can come into conflict with people and infrastructure. And now, thanks to researchers at Raincoast Conservation Foundation, we know how those two facts are tied together.

Earlier this month, Raincoast published their study, Ecology of conflict: Marine food supply affects human-wildlife interactions on land, in the journal Scientific Reports. By examining over three decades of conflict-killed grizzly reports, the researchers determined that food availability was the greatest cause of conflict – and that other factors such as hunting or population changes played a much less significant role.

To discuss this study, what it means for policy decisions in the future, and why understanding how important ecological studies are to wildlife management, Defender Radio spoke with the lead author of the study Kyle Artelle, who is a biologist for Raincoast and a Hakai PhD scholar at Simon Fraser University.

Direct download: 2016-05-30_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:47pm EDT

Episode 321: Cull is a four-letter word

Cull is a four-letter word – and that double-meaning is finally becoming more clear. For years, governments and consumptive wildlife users have argued that culls are necessary – be it for protecting game species, land, or to encourage a specific type of behaviour from hunters and trappers.

But science, advocates, and, it seems, even government reports, indicate that these culls are so ineffective that in some cases their effect is a complete 180 from the intended result.

This week, Defender Radio connected with two people who have interesting things to say about culls. First, we’ll hear from Dr. Adrian Treves of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab in the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose recent study has revealed that, in his test area, a cull initiated to reduce poaching of wolves actually increased the illegal hunting.

We’ll also hear from Krista Roessingh of Pacific Wild, one of the groups responsible for a court action against the British Columbia government’s culling of wolves to allegedly protect endangered mountain caribou herds – and the shocking revelations that came as a result of the court case.

Direct download: 2016-05-16_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

Episode 320: Advocacy in Markham

Do compassion and city politics go together? Can we really expect local politicians to do what’s right for the animals, and still balance their duties to their constituents, who the see every day?

If you’re Valerie Burke, you find a way. The City Councillor from Markham has successfully advocated for wildlife in her constituency – including supporting an initiative launched by The Fur-Bearers last year to asking fast food franchises to change the dome lids on beverage containers that have proven disastrous for animals like skunks.

To introduce The Fur-Bearers to the City of Markham and her wildlife advocacy as a politician, Councillor Burke recently joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-05-09_AdvocacyinMarkham.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

Episode 319: #YMMFire Special Report

The wildfires in Fort McMurray this week have destroyed homes and ways of life. And as residents fled as part of mandatory evacuations, the question lingers for everyone watching: will life ever be the same again?

There is little that many of us can do to help those who have lost everything, but donate to organizations like the Red Cross or the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team when able, and offer a consoling hug to someone in need. We can also look around our own homes at times like these, and see the many things that make our lives special – including our pets.

Having plans in place for when emergency strikes is an important step for preventing tragic loss – and today we connected with two different individuals to talk about such plans.

First we’ll hear from Donna Wackerbaur, a member of the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, who has seen firsthand the intensity of the aftermath from wildfires, and understands the need for preparation. We’ll also hear from Louise Liebenberg, a predator friendly rancher at The Graziere in Alberta, who personally lost pets, guardian animals, and livestock during a horrific fire. Building out an emergency plan has been vital for her business, and she shares with us the importance of thinking through contingencies.

Direct download: 2015-05-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:20pm EDT

Episode 318: C-246

In February a private members bill was introduced to the House of Commons by a rookie Liberal MP. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, member for Beaches – East York, stood up and read, for the record, the title of his first bill: C-246. That bill passed first reading without much fanfare, but now, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act is being hotly debated across the country.

From hard right conservatives who are looking for a fight to farmers with legitimate concerns, a range of criticisms has arisen about C-246, how its language on closing criminal code loopholes could impact legitimate and legal animal use, and whether or not there is even a need for such legislation.

The Fur-Bearers are proud to have consulted on the fur-related portions of the bill, and were joined on Defender Radio by its author, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, to discuss the three main components of the legislation, the far-fetched criticisms created by some conservative members, and how supporters can help protect animals by making C-246 law.

Direct download: 2016-04-25_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

Episode 317: Paws for Hope

There are nearly 200 volunteer-run animal rescue organizations in British Columbia. The majority of them do not receive government funding, have little to no full-time staff, and have countless animals depending on them. But there’s hope for them all.

Paws for Hope was founded five years ago in BC with a dream of creating “more sustainable animal welfare and purposeful companion animal protection” in the province.

From providing infrastructure grants to helping street-involved persons or low-income families afford veterinary care, and running educational campaigns about pets to hosting compassion fatigue workshops, Paws for Hope is keeping busy.

Kathy Powelson, the executive director of Paws for Hope, joined Defender Radio to explain the background of this organization, the current campaigns, and where they hope to go in the future.

Direct download: 2016-04-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

Episode 316: The Trophy Hunt Begins

Today the infamous trophy hunt of grizzly bears in British Columbia begins – and it’s no April Fool’s prank. Hunters from around the world will pay for the chance to hunt down one of the province’s most important predators – all for the sake of getting a trophy.

This issue has been covered extensively in past Defender Radio episodes, on our blog, and through traditional media. But today I was joined by two people who see first hand the importance, beauty and wonder of grizzly bears in British Columbia.

Eric and Trish Boyum own and operate Ocean Adventures aboard the Great Bear II – an ecotourism business and wildlife viewing vessel. The two have the opportunity to see beautiful grizzly cubs grow into adults, witness the important role they play in a sensitive ecosystem, and marvel at the incredible diversity of life along the coast of British Columbia. They are also among the first humans to see the travesty of a trophy hunt, and see the emotional and economic impacts.

Eric and Trish joined Defender Radio today to talk about the spring trophy hunt, their business, and why we must all speak for the grizzly bears of British Columbia.

Direct download: 2016-04-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

Episode 315: Herd

They once defined the great prairies of North America. Buffalo herds numbered as high as 50 million animals before European settlement began. And after centuries of devastation, their numbers remain low: no more than 500,000 buffalo remain, many of which are farmed.

In Yellowstone National Park, one of the last wild herds roams – 7,000 some buffalo who want nothing more than to live as they were meant to. But their lives are full of obstacles.

From the impact of ranchers grazing on public lands to outdated and potentially cruel herding techniques, the last buffalo of Yellowstone face dangers most of us would never imagine.

A pending documentary, herd, is set to explore these issues and tell the stories of the buffalo. Currently in its Kickstarter campaign, herd’s trailer shows just how powerful this film might be – the equivalent of what Blackfish did for orcas, or Cowspiracy for livestock. To discuss the project and what’s needed to make it happen, Defender Radio was joined by filmmaker Justin Keitzer.

Direct download: 2016-03-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:29pm EDT

Episode 314: Special Report

Headlines are popping up in Ontario and B.C. alike – dangerous illnesses including distemper and rabies are appearing at rates higher than usual. Though excellent bait programs in Ontario have kept rabies to few isolated cases in past decades, it seems that some animals are hitching rides across the border, and bringing minor outbreaks with them. And in B.C., distemper infamously claimed the lives of four puppies at an SPCA shelter, increasing awareness and fear of the often fatal ailment.

Though these headlines are assisting in the educational campaigns of veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators across the country, some unnecessary worry is growing as well.

To share information about distemper and rabies, what it actually looks like in wildlife and pets, how to reduce the risks of infection, and the absolute importance of vaccination to wild animals, domestic animals, and even humans, we were joined by Dr. Christine Coghlan of Preston Animal Clinic in Cambridge, Ontario.

Direct download: 2016-03-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Episode 313: Fear itself

In the animal kingdom, the power of fear is something no one would question. Fear can impact and control entire populations, affect whole ecosystems, and even change the path of evolution. But is it something we can measure – and once and for all, prove that the role of predators is more than just what they eat?

A new study from Raincoast Conservation Foundation does just that. Led by Raincoast’s ecologist and PhD student Justin Suraci, the team of scientists showed through experiments that the mere presence of predators can impact the behaviour of mesopredators and other species further down the food chain.

By using the sound of dogs barking Suraci and his team validated that fear itself is indeed something to behold.

To talk more about this study, its real world applications, and what it could be mean in future policy planning, Defender Radio was joined by Raincoast’s Justin Suraci.

Direct download: 2016-02-29_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

Episode 312: On the origins of conflict

If there’s one thing the media loves, it’s wild animals attacking humans. It’s got everything: adventure, blood, trauma, and typically, a hunt for the offending animal. There are all kinds of experts to speak with, charts and maps to create, and wonderful ways to play with headlines. They are, of course, making a minor problem worse.

Many of us involved in wildlife advocacy have learned that it’s typically people who are at fault for conflict – be it violent or the flower-eating variety. And there’s a growing body of evidence that indicates just how responsible humans are for conflict with wildlife.

A study published by a group of scientists this month in the journal Scientific Reports highlights some of the major contributing factors to the increase in wildlife conflict with large predators around the world – and the biggest factors lay solely in the opposable-thumbs of the human race.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Vincenzo Penteriani of the Spanish Council of Scientific Research joined Defender Radio to discuss the findings of this group, how we as a species can change our ways for the betterment of wildlife, and what the consequences could be if we don’t.

Direct download: 2016-02-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Episode 311: The advocacy of Dr. Marc Bekoff

Whenever we talk compassionate conservation, ethics, emotions of wildlife, or the benefits of drinking single malt Scotch through a Twizzler, there’s really only one man to call: Dr. Marc Bekoff. And fortunately for us at The Fur-Bearers, Marc has been a good sport and chatted with us regularly on Defender Radio.

Late last week we connected with the best-selling author, blogger, and professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, and nothing was left off the table.

From the trophy hunt in British Columbia to his latest books, and from the "management" of wolves and coyotes in Ontario to how important it is for scientists to become advocates, we covered it all.

Direct download: 2016-02-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

Episode 310: John Marriott Exposed

The trophy hunting of grizzly bears and culling of wolves have been hot topics in the news in recent years, and it’s only heating up. In British Columbia, we’ve partnered with LUSH Cosmetics and numerous conservation groups to let the public know they can formally comment on new policy proposals under the hashtag campaign #LeaveThemInPeace. In Alberta and Ontario, we’re constantly speaking against new policies to make it easier to kill wolves for unscientific and unethical reasons.

And when the world looks to see just who these animals are, they often see them through the eye of wildlife photographer John Marriott.

An accomplished and notable photographer based out of Banff, Alberta, John has donated his beautiful photos to numerous non-profits and sold them to major magazines like National Geographic. He has spent his life refining his craft and become a master story teller with his camera, often giving a unique look inside the lives of animal families deep in the Canadian wild.

He has also recently launched a new web series, appropriately named Exposed, which is already smashing expectations with high viewership and discussion.

To share more about his life as a wildlife photographer, his messages against trophy hunting and cruelty, and what will come next, John joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-01-25_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

Episode 309: The Compassionate Man

From host Michael Howie: I can’t speak for every animal-loving man out there, but when I stand and take a look at a magazine rack, there isn’t a lot for me. I love to cook and eat – but most of the magazines aren’t appropriate for me as a vegan; I like to work out and lift weights, but I don’t want to flip through pages of testosterone-fuelled rage; and pretty much every other lifestyle magazine for men tries to justify the stereotypical masculine status quo – something that I spend most of my time rallying against.

And that’s why I was thrilled to learn about Compassionate Man. As a vegan who has struggled with the realities of what modern culture expects of a man, Nicholas Coughlin found a way to express himself – and create a community for others. His young digital magazine, Compassionate Man, features lifestyle articles on a variety of topics, including cooking and recipes, exercise tips, diet, and interviews with big names like Gene Bauer and Bob Barker.

To talk more about this exciting new magazine and how he hopes to evolve the dialogue of how men view themselves, Nick joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-01-18_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:57pm EDT

Episode 308: Animals in Science

We can’t be sure if you heard the news, but late last year, senate bill S-214 hit the media. It’s a bill that, if passed by both the senate and the House of Commons, would eliminate the use of animals in testing cosmetic products in Canada. We all cheered because it’s a huge win for the animals. But we also had a good think about it – because why are we still testing cosmetics on animals in the second decade of the 21st century?

Sadly, it isn’t just the cosmetics industry that uses animals to test their products in Canada. Everyone from medical researchers to veterinarians to grade 9 biology students are using animals. But they don’t need to.

The Animals in Science Policy Institute is a new non-profit organization that’s sole focus is to provide a “critical and constructive dialogue about the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing in Canada.”

To learn more about this fascinating organization and the important work they’ll be doing, in late December we connected with founding executive director Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy.

Direct download: 2016-01-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

Episode 307: Making a case for animals

Last month there was a lot of hubbub in wildlife and animal welfare circles about two big legal news items: Quebec creating legislation to recognize animals as sentient beings, and the case against a woman whose business is to raise wolves in a petting zoo – then sell their fur when they die.

In our first episode of 2016, we’re bringing you interviews recorded in December that cover both of these important issues.

We’ll hear from Sophie Gaillard, an attorney and campaign coordinator with the Montreal SPCA to discuss changes in the Quebec national assembly, as well as Christopher Berry, an attorney with the US-based Animal Legal Defense Fund to talk about the case against the wolf farmer in Maine.

Direct download: 2016-01-04_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

Episode 306: The reindeer revolt

While recording this year’s special Christmas episode, a surprising phone call came in on the Defender Radio hotline. A reindeer named Agnes (yes, reindeer are Scottish, more on that in the episode) had reached out from the North Pole – with a threat to bring Christmas in Canada to a crashing halt due to how much fur she’d seen this year.

Will Christmas be cancelled this week? Will children and adults alike wake up to find no presents? You’ll have to tune in to this week’s Defender Radio to find out!

Direct download: 2015-12-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 8:50am EDT

Episode 305: #banshockcollars

Shock collars are inherently inhumane and potentially traumatizing devices used to illicit specific reactions from dogs. For a long time, their use was supported by trainers and veterinarians. But science and the massive combined experience of top trainers have shown them for what they really are – and revealed more effective, humane methods of training.

The Ban Shock Collars movement was introduced to you in an episode last season, but there are some pretty exciting updates to share – not the least of which is that their ePetition is the first to be formally recognized in Canadian history. Any Canadian resident can sign this petition and you just need to follow the links on this week’s blog or hit up to find it.

The group has also gained the support of Olympic figure skater Meagan Duhamel and iconic Canadian environmentalist and activist David Suzuki.

On this week’s episode, we’re talking with Ban Shock spokesperson Lucas Solowey about the movement, the petition, and why Canadians need to get involved. We’re also hearing from renowned dog behavior expert, trainer, and best-selling author Jean Donaldson, about the pitfalls of shock collars and what alternatives exist.

Direct download: 2015-12-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT

Episode 304: Meet the #MammothMovement

I’m a bit late with this week’s episode but I have a good excuse – last week I had surgery on my sinuses, a procedure that will help me breathe – and talk – without complications for the first time in several years. You’ll be hearing a whole lot more of me – whether you like it or not. On top of that solid excuse, I’ve also got some incredible news that makes the wait worthwhile: we’re going to bring an end to coyote fur trim.

This week we launched an exciting new partnership with a company that’s offering something so many of us have waited so long for: a totally animal-free, deep cold jacket. Mammoth Outerwear, founded by CFL football player James Yurichuk, is offering these incredible made-in-Canada coats that will directly compete with the fur-trimmed jackets we’ve seen too often around our neighbourhoods.

And what puts Mammoth Outerwear even further over the top is the simple fact that a portion of proceeds from every animal-free jacket sold will be donated to The Fur-Bearers. I KNOW! Right now the jackets are exclusively available on Kickstarter with early bird pricing, so while you listen to this episode head on over and order yours before they’re gone! Let’s get into it with our very special guest, Founder of Mammoth Outerwear and professional football player James Yurichuk.

Direct download: 2015-11-26_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

Episode 303: Spring killing returns to Ontario

It’s hard to describe the frustration I felt when I saw the announcement from the Ministry of Natural Resources here in Ontario – the spring bear hunt will be extended, expanded across the province. A little over two years ago I felt a similar level of frustration as the government said they would introduce a two-year pilot project of a spring hunt, which was cancelled in 1999, to try and curb human-bear conflicts.

At the time, government research indicates that it wouldn’t help curb the conflict; now, two years later, more evidence shows that not only did the hunt not help, but it will continue to not help. Everyone from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to wildlife protection groups to the government’s own scientists have come to this conclusion – yet years of fear mongering and politicking continue to push the agenda.

To discuss the proposal put forth by the ministry and provide context, science, and a helping of practical experience, Defender Radio was joined by Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us Sanctuary and Rehabilitation.

Direct download: 2015-11-16-DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:28pm EDT

Episode 302: The political wilderness

We have a new Prime Minister, new Members of Parliament, and a new cabinet. What does it all mean for the animals?

It’s hard to make a clear distinction. On one hand, we have a PMO that already seems more open and transparent than it has for the past 10 years; on the other, we have a Prime Minister who’s a little too fond of his Canada Goose coyote fur-trimmed parka. We have gender equality in the cabinet for the first time, and cabinet members who wore seal skin to their swearing-in ceremonies.

To help us break down what some of this means now, and over the next four years, we connected with political powerhouse Camille Labchuk. A former Green Party candidate and now the freshly minted executive director for Animal Justice Canada, Camille’s experience, education, and compassion gives her the unique perspective we need to help figure out what a red Canada means for the animals.

Direct download: 2015-11-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 03 -- posted at: 6:14pm EDT

Episode 301: Whistler faces feeding crisis

Following our break for the 2015 Living With Wildlife Conference, we’re getting back into it with a tough situation facing bears – and those who want to protect them – in Whistler, British Columbia.

An unprecedented food shortage has affected the behaviour of the bears, who through September and October are looking for calories anywhere they can be found. As a result of this unique situation, Sylvia Dolson and the Get Bear Smart Society proposed a provincially-operated diversionary feeding program – effectively, they wanted to put natural foodstuffs into the wild areas to prevent the bears from pushing closer to human settled areas and the subsequent conflict that would arise.

The province ultimately rejected this plan and, despite Whistler’s reputation of being a Bear Smart community, several bears have been killed following conflict scenarios.

To discuss this difficult situation, potential solutions, and what the real cost of the consequences will be, Sylvia recently joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2015-11-02_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:47pm EDT

Episode 249: Living With Wildlife Preview

Thanksgiving has passed and we know what we’re thankful for: Living With Wildlife 2015 is finally here! This Friday, October 16, we’re bringing together some of the top experts on wildlife, conservation, and co-existence in Vancouver for our fifth annual conference.

I was lucky enough to catch time with two of our presenters prior to the event: the BC SPCA’s top scientist Dr. Sara Dubois, as well as Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s postdoctoral researcher Dr. Heather Bryan.

There are still a few seats available for this great event, so if you’re in the Vancouver area, make sure you register today at or by calling 604-435-1850.

Direct download: 2015-10-12_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:29pm EDT

Episode 248: Special Report: Wolf Week

Wolf week begins on October 12, and this year, the wolves could certainly use your help. Two massive culling programs are underway in western Canada, horrific traps remain legal, and many people still have a culturally-instilled fear of these keystone canids.

But these beautiful, family-oriented creatures play an integral role in our ecosystems, and there is much we can do to help them. To help discuss some of the ways we can get involved, as well as tell us more about a series of events taking place in BC, Alberta, and Ontario during wolf week, we were joined by Sadie Parr of Wolf Awareness Incorporated.

Direct download: 2015-10-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 2:51pm EDT

Episode 247: Asher Jay: Hear her roar

She’s travelled the world under the National Geographic Explorer banner; she’s created paintings that have defined movements for animal welfare; she’s designed Fabergé eggs that helped support anti-poaching efforts; and she’s coming to the 2015 Living With Wildlife conference in Vancouver.

Asher Jay is a designer, artist, writer, and activist who uses creative concepts and design to advance animal welfare, sustainable development, and humanitarian causes around the world. From laying in tent surrounded by lions to photographing the busy streets of New York City, her experiences have given her a unique perspective on all of these issues.

Asher joined Defender Radio recently to talk about her past, her passion and why she’s excited to be speaking at the 2015 Living With Wildlife conference on October 16.

Direct download: 2015-10-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:26am EDT

Episode 246: BC's Environment Advocate

We’re officially four weeks out from the election today and the excitement is getting… well, it’s pretty much the same as it was. But we’re excited here at The Fur-Bearers because MLA for Vancouver West-End Spencer Chandra Herbert recently sat down with our executive director Lesley Fox to talk about issues facing fur-bearing animals in BC.

As the official opposition’s critic to the Minister of the Environment, Chandra Herbert has his finger on the pulse of many subjects surrounding the environment and wildlife in British Columbia. And that made him the perfect person to join Defender Radio and talk about such issues, as well as the upcoming federal election, why the environment should be top of mind for every Canadian, and why we need to get up and do something about it.

Direct download: 2015-09-28_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:04pm EDT

Episode 245: Special Report - Miley Cyrus and the BC wolves

International pop star Miley Cyrus visited the Great Bear Rainforest in BC with her brother to learn more about the controversial wolf cull and trophy hunting of grizzly bears. Her weekend sojourn was spent with advocates from the Kitasoo/Xais’Xai First Nation, scientists, and staffers from Pacific Wild.

Cyrus spoke to media extensively following her visit, noting that her previous passion to end the wolf cull for moral reasons now had science behind it.

When asked about the international attention being brought to the notorious cull and trophy hunts, Premier Christy Clark merely laughed away concern, and made a remark about Cyrus’s performance-based fashion choices.

Joining us to talk more about the visit of Cyrus, the surprising response of the Premier, and the science behind the #SaveBCWolves movement is Pacific Wild’s April Bencze.

Direct download: 2015-09-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 7:44pm EDT

Episode 244: Voting is your voice

We’re another week closer to the general election in Canada and the rhetoric is flying fast and furious. But despite the ongoing coverage of the election, subjects relating to the environment and particularly to wildlife has been somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

Does this mean that wildlife and the environment aren’t going to be campaign issues, or that the electorate doesn’t care? It’s quite the opposite, according to some new polling released last week by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The data was released in conjunction with IFAW’s election website, which helps voters identify their local candidates’ views on wildlife and the environment.

To share more with about this program and what Canadians had to say about wildlife and the 2015 election, we were joined by IFAW’s Sheryl Fink, Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues.

Direct download: 2015-09-21_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 8:40pm EDT

Episode 243: The shocking truth

Millions of our homes – at least half of all those in Canada – are shared with a four-legged friend. As a nation we spend billions of dollars on our pets, and most of us consider our larger pets – dogs and cats – to be members of the family. Despite this, there are a lot of gaps in legislation protecting our pets, including how we train them.

One highly controversial method of dog training includes e-collars, more commonly known as shock collars. Though there is no existing legislation or even consensus among retailers and trainers, there is strong opposition to the use of shock collars from some heavy hitters – and this week we got to hear what they had to say.

The couple behind, Gwendy and Alfie Williams (new partners of the LUSH Charity Pot program), joined us to share their tale of discovery about these devices, as well as what they’ve done in recent years to try and advocate against the use of shock collars. We were also fortunate to hear from renowned trainer, behaviourist and best-selling author Jean Donaldson, who shared her views on the evolution of dog training and the modern use of aversive devices.

Direct download: 2015-09-14_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:14pm EDT

Episode 242: Be a humane voter

Animal lovers know how frustrating politics can be, particularly during an election campaign. Despite the fact that the majority of Canadians have companion animals in their homes, and that the humane treatment of animals and their habitats is a priority for many voters, these issues rarely make it onto the floor of the House of Commons.

And the folks at Animal Justice Canada Legislative Fund want to make that history.

Last week the organization launched Humane Voters Canada, a project that seeks to use election process to influence the legislature to improve the welfare and rights of non-human animals. To introduce us to this new project, how it will function, and how we can all play a role, Defender Radio was joined by Humane Voters Canada Director Jerry Simonelli.

Direct download: 2015-09-07_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

Predator control is a nasty business. Millions of animals are killed each year around the country to protect livestock, ecosystems and, depending on who you listen to, children. The problem with this entire system of treating predators as the bad guy is that we’re missing the biggest and the baddest of them all: us.

In a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Science, researchers from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, University of Victoria (UVic), and the Hakai Institute pulled data from hundreds of studies worldwide to confirm that humans are dangerous “super-predators.”

To dive into how human actions are impacting fish populations, carnivore and herbivore relationships, and even changing the very course of evolution before our eyes, Defender Radio was fortunate to be joined by Raincoast science director and Hakai-Raincoast professor at UVic, Dr. Chris Darimont.

Direct download: 2015-08-31_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:04pm EDT

Episode 240: Law and order

We’re taking you into the world of animal law on this episode, featuring two major cases in the United States whose outcomes could very well change wildlife policy across the country.

The WildEarth Guardians are celebrating a victory in appeals court from earlier this month, which allows their legal action against the notorious Wildlife Service program of the USDA to move forward. And in the eastern US, the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, along with two partner organizations, is pushing a federal judge to halt the state’s trapping season to protect the endangered Canada Lynx.

Both of these cases could play major roles in preventing the needless slaughter of millions of fur-bearers in the United States and even influence future policy in Canada and abroad.

Direct download: 2015-08-24_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 7:18pm EDT

Episode 239: Alberta's wild future

From swift fox introduction to rehabilitation of baby bears, the Cochrane Ecological Institute and Cochrane Wildlife Reserve Society has done it all. Their resume of education, research and protecting Alberta’s biodiversity has given them a reliable and authoritative voice on all matters of wildlife policy and planning.

But the government has ignored their pleas over a barbaric program that sees bear cubs killed rather than rehabilitated – and without reliable data on how many bears there even are in the province at this point, it’s becoming a dangerous standard.

Lisa Dahlseide, Education Director at the Cochrane Ecological Institute, joined Defender Radio to talk about this ridiculous policy, the need for ongoing research in the province, and what people can do to help the wildlife of Alberta.

Direct download: 2015-08-17_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

Episode 238: Speaking for the wolves

Most have us have been able to agree that the plan to cull wolves in British Columbia in order to protect endangered caribou herds is a bad idea – particularly since the wolves aren’t responsible for the plummeting population numbers of the caribou. But the government has not only pursued this plan with vigor, they’ve quietly stated it will be an annual slaughter for wolves for at least five years to come.

Monitoring the actions of the government and challenging the fringe science with which they’re attempting to support their plan is Wolf Awareness Incorporated. The non-profit group has spent countless hours poring through records, speaking with experts and conducting their own polls in opposition to this plan. Making matters worse, however, is that the government isn’t releasing all of the data they said they would – even under the auspices of the mighty Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act.

To talk more about the struggle to find the truth from a suspicious BC government, Defender Radio was joined by Wolf Awareness Inc. president and long-time wolf advocate Gary Allan.

Direct download: 2015-08-10_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:20pm EDT

Episode 237: The Cougar Channel

The world has been talking about the tragic death of a big cat in Africa this week. But there are many other species of big cats – and some are right here at home and in need of our protection.

At the front lines of protecting these fur-bearers is Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization that specializes in research, habitat conservation and policies to protect the big cats of the world. As part of their work, they’ve launched a new, interactive website,, which they hope will bring people closer to the legendary cats of North America.

We were joined by Dr. Mark Elbroch, Director of Science for Puma and Jaguar Programs at Panthera, to talk about the new Cougar Channel project, the latest research on big cats and their role in ecosystems, and why we need to protect our native cat species.

Direct download: 2015-08-03_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Episode 236: The journey of OR-7

For over 120 years, the gray wolf had been absent from the state of California. Extermination programs, recreational hunting, trapping for fur, and habitat loss, drove the populations down and out until they were extirpated. That is until OR-7.

The gray wolf, known internationally by his scientific tag designation, ventured over 1,500 kilometres from his pack in Rogue River, Oregon to the western part of the state and into California, making worldwide headlines and exciting wildlife lovers in America.

In the ensuing years since his iconic crossing of the state line, OR-7, also known by many as Journey, has sired two litters of pups in Oregon and continues to amaze researchers and advocates. Despite this success and recognition, however, OR-7’s life is not easy and his safety is not guaranteed.

Defender Radio was joined by Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity to discuss the world’s fascination with this wolf, what he represents to advocates and why policies are being debated that could see him murdered.

Direct download: 2015-07-27_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

Episode 235: Breaking the news

The news – be it online, radio, television or print – can influence the world. One great photograph can show the heartbreak of a family and one well-written verse can bring down political empires. But most of the time, the news is just that – news. It’s the gathering and presenting of fact and opinion to the masses.

Then there are the times in between, when the news is influencing policymakers and the public in a nearly imperceptible manner. And that’s what we’re focusing on with our two guests this week.

We’ll first hear from celebrated author, trainer and dog behaviour expert Jean Donaldson, who joined the show to talk about how the media got it wrong in a recent human-dog conflict in Hamilton, and why the term ‘pit bull’ can bring up such dread in the masses – and excitement in reporters.

Then we’re joined by our friend Sheryl Fink from the International Fund for Animal Welfare for an update on how a single piece of paper found by a media outlet brought down the government’s entire argument for supporting the cull of grey seals on our east coast.

Direct download: 2015-07-20_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

Episode 234: After bite

The mere mention of the Great White shark can give thrills and tremors to beachgoers, divers and surfers. When the news media picks up a story of a shark attack, we’re all subconsciously playing this infamous quote over and over in our minds: we’re going to need a bigger boat.

But despite the seeming increase in the number of shark attacks, historical data shows that statistically, you’re still more likely to be hit by bolt of lightning than become a snack for the ancient predators.

At the forefront of the discussion on shark attacks are the scientists who study the figures, the animals and our reaction to them. One such researcher is Dr. Francesco Ferretti of Stanford, who along with a team in Monterey, California, are bringing greater understanding of shark attacks and the need for conservation, education and reasonable publicly policy.

Dr. Ferretti joined Defender Radio last week to talk sharks – and whether or not it’s safe to go back into the water.

Direct download: 2015-07-13_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:14pm EDT

Episode 233: Special Report

The ongoing saga of BC Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant and the two bear cubs he refused to kill has captured the attention of Canada – and the world. News outlets from as far away as Germany and the UK have been monitoring the story as it unfolds this week. And Defender Radio is pleased to bring you the unabridged interview with the man caring for the two cubs and speaking out on behalf of CO Casavant.

Robin Campbell, who has helped wildlife recover for 30 years, took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the current state of the twin cubs, named Jordan and Athena, respond to critics in the media, and give his full version of the events that led to cubs being in the care of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association.

Petitions to reinstate CO Bryce Casavant and begin new funding, studies and education for the conservation service can be found at To help North Island Wildlife Recovery Association with their costs, visit


Direct download: 2015-07-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:52pm EDT

Episode 232: Managing the invasion

For thousands of years, humankind has studied the delicate interplay of species across the vast web of life. And for thousands of years, we’ve successfully screwed it right up.

From the time of Aristotle to today’s grade one classrooms, understanding how ecosystems work has been a vital part of scientific study. But what we don’t know, or, more appropriately, what we can’t fully and accurately measure and predict, far outweighs what we do know.

One of the greatest risks facing ecosystems, and one that we are almost always directly responsible for, is invasive species. From domestic cats to insects like the emerald ash borer to fungi causing disease in bat colonies, havoc is stretched around the globe.

And ecological scientists like Dr. Euan Ritchie at Deakin University in Australia are dedicated to trying to understand, and when possible measure, the minute roles that all of these species play in ecosystems.

In a recently published study, Dr. Ritchie and his colleagues explore the attempts to manage invasive species and the consequences – some of which may be lead to significant changes in management practice.

Dr. Ritchie joined Defender Radio to discuss this paper, the role predators play, and how we can work to improve policy for animals and the environment around the world.

Direct download: 2015-06-29_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 11:12pm EDT

Episode 231: Good news

We wanted to have a week that focuses on good news – and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

We connected with superstar lawyer Camille Labchuk to talk about Quebec’s new animal welfare legislation and what it means for the future of wildlife, animals in captivity and companion animals in la belle province.

We also got in touch with Dr. Carrie Packwood Freeman, a cultural studies professor who specializes in media communications and teaches journalists and the public what non-human animal news done right looks like.

Direct download: 2015-06-22_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 9:08pm EDT

Episode 230: Awkward Conversations

Uncomfortable discussions come up in the world of animal advocacy, just like any other field. But when we have our awkward conversations, there are often lives on the line.

This week we’re going to look at two such topics: dogs in hot cars and seal penises.

Dogs die every summer from coast-to-coast because they’re left in hot vehicles on warm days. We’ll be joined by Dr. Emilia Gordon of the BC SPCA who will help us understand the physiological changes dogs undergo when left in hot cars, as well as what dog lovers should know about cooling off overheated pups. Then we’ll connect with Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare to talk seal penises. It’s no prank – and you may have a lot of explaining to do to those around you when they see you switch from laughing to crying and back again following the interview.

Direct download: 2015-06-15_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

Episode 229: CSI: Coyote scene investigators

When conflict arises between coyotes and humans, the coyotes typically get the short end of the stick. Trapping, hunting and all-out culls are always on the horizon when coyotes are involved in incidents. But, it’s not always a coyote who is responsible for perceived or actual conflict; sometimes it can be predatory birds, other terrestrial mammals like bears or raccoons, and it can even be domestic dogs.

Finding the truth is the ultimate goal whenever and wherever conflict exists – and that’s the speciality of Coyote Watch Canada.

Lesley Sampson, founder and Executive Director of Coyote Watch Canada, is an expert coyote tracker and runs dozens – if not hundreds – of investigations into coyote and wildlife behaviour in communities each year. She joined Defender Radio recently to talk about the process of investigating wildlife conflict, the need for public education in this time, and analysis of some recent wildlife conflict events across Canada.

Direct download: 2015-05-18_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:48pm EDT

Episode 228: Special Report: Unnatural Enemies

This special report episode has been rushed to post for you, our wonderful supporters, so that we can let you know about an incredible documentary airing on CTV and CTV2 in Alberta this Monday, May 18. Unnatural Enemies: The War on Wolves explores the incredibly controversial wolf killing taking place in Alberta. Wildlife experts, biologists, advocates, hunters and trappers are all included in 44-minute documentary, as well as historic data and current science on wolf populations and behaviour.

We’re very fortunate to have been granted an exclusive interview with the director and producer of the Pyramid Productions documentary, Geordie Day, who joined us to talk about the motivations of the film, the harsh realities facing wolves and why everyone in Canada should be watching.

Direct download: 2015-05-15_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:26pm EDT

Episode 227: Craving Compassion, Canada?

What do a Buddhist monk in Vancouver and the owner of a sanctuary farm in central Ontario have in common? Compassion. This week we’re talking with Shifu Zhihan, a teacher of Buddhism in Vancouver who’s helping to host Vesak 2015 For World Peace this Saturday, May 16. We’ll also connect with Brenda Bronfman the founder of Wishing Well Sanctuary in Bradford, Ontario.

With surprising similarities, Zhihan and Brenda spoke with Defender Radio about the role of animals in their lives, how they found their way to peace and compassion, and how they hope to leave the world a little more beautiful.

Direct download: 2015-05-11_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 9:01pm EDT

Episode 226: Join the revolution

Anger and frustration are common for us animal advocates. And this week we’re talking with someone who can help us by teaching us what questions we should be asking ourselves.

Deb Ozarko finished college and got a diploma in Design, Communications and Advertising. She worked in corporate and studio settings. Deb Ozarko completed an Ironman triathlon. Deb Ozarko was an aggressive, outspoken activist. And yet, none of these things are how Deb Ozarko defines herself today.

In an incredible journey from grief and anger to compassion and hope, Deb transformed her life. Her story – and the many things she learned in this lifelong lesson – are spoken of during her popular The Unplug Podcast, in her book the Status Quo Crusher and through her blog.

Deb Ozarko wants to see a revolution of love. And she joined Defender Radio to discuss her life lessons, plans and hopes with us in an in-depth and revealing interview.

Direct download: 2015-05-04_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT