Defender Radio and The Switch
Episode 225: Represent

After speaking on behalf of our members, supporters and all the fur-bearing animals of Canada as expert witnesses in a parliamentary committee last week, we wanted to share two important ways we can all represent for the animals.

We’ll hear from Camille Labchuk, animal rights lawyer extraordinaire and former Green Party candidate, to discuss the ins and outs of proportional representation – what it means for our country and how we can get fair representation in our parliamentary system.

Then we’ll talk with Kimberly Panzarella, owner and designer of FTLA Apparel, whose new line of Make Fur History shirts helps everyone represent the animals – and provide much needed support to The Fur-Bearers.

Direct download: 2015-04-27_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:05pm EDT

Episode 224: The Cowspiracy is real

With Earth Day on the horizon it makes sense to take a step back from fur-bearer-specific issues and look at a subject plaguing the entire planet. What’s interesting, however, is that this issue does, in fact, relate back to fur-bearing animals.

For this week’s episode, we connected with Keegan Cuhn, a co-director of the popular and incredible documentary Cowspiracy. In what begins as a simple flick about water use and sustainability, Keegan and co-director Kip quickly discover that there is a much, much larger problem in the use of life-giving water around the world: animal agriculture. This massive and powerful industry is responsible for an uncanny level of damage to our planet and, of course, our wildlife.

In this interview, Keegan explored the building of the film – from the personal journey to the stonewalling by massive non-profits and how it changed his life – and may change the world.

Direct download: 2015-04-20_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

Episode 223: Spring feeding

On this week’s episode we’re focusing on two spring-related topics that come up every year – wildlife feeding and living with bears.

In almost every wildlife conflict situation we’ve studied, food is a central issue. Whether it’s intentionally feeding ungulates like deer or unintentionally feeding predatory animals like coyotes, the easiest and safest way to live with wildlife is to ensure we’re not feeding them. And Dr. Sara Dubois, the Chief Scientific Officer for the BC SPCA, has a plan – she wants to make wildlife feeding the new littering.

Being Bear Smart isn’t always something on our minds – but it certainly is easy to do once you understand the basics. Sylvia Dolson of the Get Bear Smart Society in Whistler, BC, joined Defender Radio to talk spring bears – what they’re up to, how they respond to us and what we can do to prevent conflict.

Direct download: 2015-04-13_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT

Episode 222: For the love of dog

They are our best friends, our family and our own personal heroes. Dogs have become an everyday part of life for millions of Canadians – from sharing our homes and time to our pillows and hearts. With so many people profiting from this companionship and our quest to perfect the relationships between ourselves and our pets, there’s sure to be some bad eggs – little dogs with big barks, as it were. And then, there are those who rely on modern science, coupled with compassion, to find the truth about dogs – and how we can live fulfilling lives for both us and our canine companions.

One such modern saviour of dog lovers is Jean Donaldson. Born in Montreal, has become known as a pre-emptive authority on dog training and behaviour through her ongoing study and growth both the practice and science of her trade. Jean joined Defender Radio for a special, 50-minute interview to talk dogs, the evolution of behaviour models from B.F. Skinner to Walt Disney and beyond, breaking through the media hype of certain celebrity trainers, and even took time to answer questions from our listeners and supporters.

Direct download: 2015-04-06_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

Episode 221: Water world

Some 500 years ago, Leonardo Da Vinci said ‘water is the driving force of all nature.’ And today, that message needs to be spread.

Not only are our oceans the last frontier of Earth-based exploration, they – along with our lakes and rivers – are the basis of all life on the planet. And these water systems are at risk.

From drought in California to pollution of Canada’s Great Lakes, water is an important topic that needs to be addressed. And this week, we have two experts prepared to do just that.

On this episode we hear from Bill Pazert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), who has been studying the California drought – and the possible solutions available, from beavers to centralized management. Following that, we connect with Liat Podolsky, a staff biologist with EcoJustice, who are fighting to protect our lakes from a new threat – microbeads.

Direct download: 2015-03-30_DefendeRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

Episode 220: The Easter Bunny exposed!

As sure as eggs are being hidden by the Easter bunny in homes across the country this week, many parents are planning special gifts for their children – including bunnies. But these intelligent, beautiful animals require special care and a long-time commitment – much more so than many people understand. And that’s when the heroes at the Small Animal Rescue Society of BC get involved.

Founded in 2004, the volunteer-run group focus their efforts on the needs of small animals – ranging from bunnies and chinchillas to rats and hamsters. And they’ve got an important message this time of year: don’t give rabbits as gifts.

Lisa Hutcheon of the Small Animal Rescue Society of BC joined Defender Radio to talk rabbits, small animal rescue and how everyone can be a hero this Easter.

Direct download: 2015-03-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:35pm EDT

Episode 219: Respecting raccoons

We’re all about raccoons this week, now that spring is on the way – and some horrific news arose out of White Rock, British Columbia.

As the weather warms – albeit a little too slowly for some of us here in Ontario – the behaviour of our wild neighbours will also be changing. Primarily, they’ll be looking for safe places to raise their newborn family members. Raccoons and squirrels seem to like our homes – they are, after all, warm and safe. But the presence of raccoons and squirrels, including their young, can be a hazard for homeowners. Canada’s leading humane wildlife removal expert, Brad Gates, will join us to discuss the ins and outs of home safety with wildlife in the spring.

But it’s not all good news this week. As documented through our blogs and social media, a single raccoon caught in not one, but two leg-hold traps in the quiet city of White Rock, has created an outcry. Frank Goff, the man who first witnessed the suffering animal and brought it to the attention of the media, will join us to discuss what he saw – and what the future holds for wildlife in White Rock.

Direct download: 2015-03-16_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

Episode 218: Badgering for change

Working to protect animals isn’t always a clear cut job – and sometimes, it’s things you’d least expect that require a bit of extra attention. This week we’re hearing from two individuals who are working on issues that aren’t as visible as many others.

First we’ll hear from Lucas Solowey, an advocate who works with The Fur-Bearers, who’s helping out coyotes by organizing a demonstration at a conference where a Canada Goose Executive is speaking this week.

Then we’ll turn it over to Gwen Barlee of The Wilderness Committee in British Columbia, who is working to put a true endangered species policy in place in the province that prides itself on eco-tourism.

Direct download: 2015-03-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:25pm EDT

Episode 217: The State of the Beaver

How do beavers revive watersheds and help combat climate change? Those were the questions poised to experts and advocates at the recent State of the Beaver conference in Oregon.

Hosted by the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership, the 2015 State of the Beaver Conference brought together a slew of experts – from advocates to flow device experts like Mike Callahan and geography professors to in-the-field ecologists. Included in that lineup was Dr. Heidi Perryman, a friend of The Fur-Bearers and the advocate behind the Worth A Dam podcast and blog at

Heidi joined Defender Radio to discuss the pressing issues presented at the conference, the lessons learned and what it all means for the future of beavers in North America and abroad.

Direct download: 2015-03-02_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 2:34pm EDT

Episode 216: March is coming in like a lion

March is gearing up to come in like a lion for the Fur-bearers. The ongoing attack on advocacy by the Harper government picked up last week with new claims in the House of Commons, leaked reports from the RCMP and the staggering introduction of bill C-51. But a lion-like March isn’t always bad news – we’re teaming up with a fantastic ethical business for a month-long fundraiser that’s sure to put a smile on your face.

This week we’ll hear from Camille Labchuk, one of Canada’s leading animal rights attorneys, who discusses everything from politics to terrorism laws and how we can each make a difference come election time. Following that, Shana Victor will connect with Defender Radio to talk about how her ethical business will be supporting The Fur-Bearers throughout the month of March – and how you can end up with beautiful jewellery, clothing and accessories while supporting the Fur-Bearers, too.

Direct download: 2015-02-23_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 2:11pm EDT

Episode 215: Making humane choices

Making humane choices can be difficult at times – but when you know where to look and what questions to ask, it can be surprisingly easy and satisfying. This week we’re talking with two individuals who have made significant strides in operating humane businesses and have also been stalwart supporters of The Fur-Bearers.

We’ll first hear from Brad Gates, owner of AAA Gates Wildlife Control. As an animal lover and honest businessman, Brad has done wonders for educating the public on humane wildlife removal and is leading the pack at reforming his own industry to be even better for the animals. Following Brad we’ll touch base with Alycia Gemoya-Allen, manager of a LUSH Cosmetics store in Indiana that had the largest success in the Make Fur History campaign last fall.

Direct download: 2015-02-16_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:11pm EDT

Episode 214: Unintended consequences

We regularly speak about the direct implications of actions against wildlife – from full on culls to the trapping and disruption of family units. But there is a lot more happening in our country that’s putting wildlife at risk, and not all of it is visible or obvious. This week we’re exploring the unintended consequences of human activities.

Secondary poisoning is a serious concern – and the Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia deals with it regularly. We’ll hear from Janelle _ who sees the consequences of poison used on rodents and how it impacts predatory birds and other animals.

The hot topic in the oil sands right now is the truly frightening tailings ponds and their potential consequences for the ecosystems they’re built in. We’ll be joined by Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence Canada, one of the leading organizations fighting to uncover the truth about these eco-bombs waiting to happen.

Direct download: 2015-02-09_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 2:49pm EDT

Episode 213: Finding compassion for canids

The news this year has all been about the cousins of our domestic dogs, wolves and coyotes.

Increased sightings of coyotes throughout areas of Ontario have caused a spike in complaints, heightened fear of predators and even lethal action. Our friends at Coyote Watch Canada, however, have been working non-stop since December to show the media the truth about coyotes and how we can live with them.

Further west, wolves are in the crosshairs in both Alberta and British Columbia as governments scramble to find ways to protect endangered caribou herds in both provinces. Even though science and public opinion is against them, the kills are well under way – and it’s coming down to wolf experts like Paul Paquet to speak out against them.

Direct download: 2015-02-02_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:17pm EDT

Episode 212: Dam Builders

From the name of a winter pastry to the back of our five cent piece, the beaver is everywhere in Canada. But few people know the true history of beavers – that they were nearly wiped out by trapping; that they play an integral role in our ecosystems; and that they are still trapped every day from coast-to-coast.

So this week we’re exploring the beaver in two very different but important ways.

First we’ll hear from University instructor, naturalist, photographer and author, Michael Runtz, about his new book - Dam Builders: The Natural History of Beavers and Their Ponds.

Then we’ll talk with Dian Murrell of the Alouette Valley Association, whose frustration with the beaver-trapping ways of her municipality led her to working with APFA to find non-lethal solutions to potential conflict.

Direct download: 2015-01-19_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

Episode 211: Canada's failing grade

To start out the new year we’re taking a look at some serious news – Canada’s failing grade for animal welfare and protections.

Late last year, World Animal Protection unveiled their first ever API – or Animal Protection Index – an ingenious way of measuring individual nation’s efforts at protecting animals. Canada received a failing grade – lower than some third world countries – causing a media firestorm. Also late in 2014, the International Fund for Animal Welfare announced that Canada was failing to meet its international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This was incidentally timed with a study from Canadian scientists showing that our country's efforts to protect already at-risk or endangered species are critically failing.

Direct download: 2015-01-12_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:39pm EDT

Episode 210: Santa's going fur-free

As things started to wind down at the Fur-Bearers office last week, we received a surprising piece of mail.

The letter was addressed to Adrian Nelson, our Director of Communications. He wasn’t sure from whom the letter came, as the return label was only a postal code – H0H0H0. He later said that the letter also smelled faintly of candy canes and gingerbread, but didn’t think much of that.

Signatures that appeared to read S. Claus, M. Claus, R. Deer and F. Jingles were listed.

As a group, we discussed what this letter was. A trick from the trappers? A trap from the tricksters? A ruse by Prime Minister Harper (known universally to be on the naughty list)?

While the discussion went on, Defender Radio host Michael Howie decided to don his old investigative journalist hat and make a few phones calls. What you’'ll hear on this week's episode is the unedited recordings of the evidence collected with a few well-placed phone calls.

Direct download: 2014-12-22_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 4:02pm EDT

Episode 209: Bella's story

Last week we told you the story of Bella and the Pelley family of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. Bella, a five-year-old lab mix, was caught in a terrifying leg-hold trap within the town limits while out for a walk with Peg Pelley and the family’s other dog, Whiskey. Bella damaged 17 of her teeth and severely bruised her paw why desperately trying to get free of the trap. A Good Samaritan was able to get Bella loose, and the Pelley family immediately sought out veterinary help.

To get the specialized dental care, Peg, her daughter Megan, and Bella had to travel to Montreal – hundreds of kilometres from their home. The night before the surgery, Peg spoke with Defender Radio about the harrowing ordeal, the treatment needed for Bella, and the support she has felt from both her local community and animal lovers across the country.

Direct download: 2014-12-08_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

Episode 208: The times they are a changin'

It gets frustrating for us animal lovers – the apparent lack of change, the ongoing suffering. But the times, they really are a changing.

This week we’re talking with two people involved in the process of change. First is Mario Canseco of Insights West, who conducted a poll on Canadian’s attitudes about fur and is an expert on consumer behaviour.

Following Mario is Camille Labchuk, the animal rights attorney well-known by our supporters. In her work with Animal Justice, Camille has played an important role in the development and release of the Animal Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

Direct download: 2014-12-01_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:21pm EDT

Episode 207: Winter is coming

The weather last week across most of Canada sure was frightful – snow, sleet and icy winds let us know that winter had officially arrived. Even in Vancouver, where most of the APFA team is likely lounging about in swimwear, temperatures took a dip. Here in Southern Ontario we received several inches of snow and a whistling wind for days on end.

But while we were all huddled up in warm layers and heated homes, our fur-bearing friends weathered the storm without assistance. And that’s what we’re focusing on this week.

Brad Gates of AAA Gates’ Wildlife Control will discuss the changing temperatures – and how they influence the behaviour of wildlife in urban areas, and what that means for homeowners. Then we’ll hear from Linda Bakker of the Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia who will let us know what to look for in birds and other animals who may be injured as winter progresses.

Direct download: 2014-11-24_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

Episode 206: History and future of the seal hunt

This week we’re diving into one of the most contentious issues of Canadian culture: the seal hunt. For a long time, the hunt was a necessary way of life for aboriginal peoples as well as those who sought fortune and subsistence on this land. But we contend that today it is unnecessary and cruel. To explore this issue with us, we were recently joined by Sheryl Fink, Director of Wildlife Campaigns for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

For more than a decade, Sheryl has worked on the seal hunt issue, which included witnessing and recording the hunt, working with international partners and developing strategies to bring it to an end.

Our conversation delved into the history of the hunt, the evolution of attitudes, the role the fur industry plays in the modern seal hunt, and what people can be doing to voice their concerns.

Direct download: 2014-11-17_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 3:44pm EDT

Episode 205: Who puts fur in fashion?

You’ve been hearing a lot about our #MakeFurHistory campaign in the last week and a half – and sharing it with your friends, family and neighbours. We’re seeing a huge influx of support as a result and can’t thank you all enough. This week we’re taking another look at the fur industry and why fur is still fashionable with a top designer, professor and blogger: Joshua Katcher.

Editor and founder of the Discerning Brute blog, designer of the Brave Gentleman fashion line and an adjunct professor of fashion at Parsons, Joshua is widely regarded as an expert on sustainable and humane fashion.

In a recent conversation with Defender Radio, Joshua not only touched on his background and interest in humane fashion, but looked at the history and evolution of fur, the cultural symbolism it continues to represent and how we might fight the fur industry by using their own tactics against them.

Direct download: 2014-11-10_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Episode 204: #MakeFurHistory

Late last week we unveiled our latest – and largest ever – campaign: Make Fur History. On this week’s episode of Defender Radio, we’ll be telling you more about the campaign, how it was developed and the realities facing mink and fox on today’s Canadian fur farms.

We'll hear from Tricia Stevens of LUSH Cosmetics on why the international make up company decided to get behind the campaign.

One of our partner agencies, the Montreal SPCA, has done intensive work looking at the legislation surrounding animals on fur farms and what it means in the big picture. Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA will speak about this unsettling issue.

To learn more about the #MakeFurHistory campaign, please visit and take the pledge, share with your friends and help us make fur history.

Direct download: 2014-11-03_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Episode 203: Living With Wildlife Highlights Part 2

The Living With Wildlife 2014 conference was a resounding success! Nearly 100 guests and speakers arrived at the Holiday Inn Carlton in Toronto on October 17 for a day of seminars, education and networking.

Topics of the day covered everything from animal laws to rehabilitation of bears, and municipal wildlife strategies to living with coyotes.

In this week's episode of Defender Radio we're bringing you highlights from two of our speakers: Donna Doyle of the Town of Oakville, who explained the importance of a municipal wildlife strategy, and Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us Rehabilitation and Sanctuary, who detailed the vital need to understand bear language and how we can peacefully live among them.

Direct download: 2014-10-27_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

Episode 202: Living With Wildlife Highlights Part 1

The Living With Wildlife 2014 conference was a resounding success! Nearly 100 guests and speakers arrived at the Holiday Inn Carlton in Toronto on October 17 for a day of seminars, education and networking.

Topics of the day covered everything from animal laws to rehabilitation of bears, and municipal wildlife strategies to living with coyotes.

In this week's episode of Defender Radio we're bringing you highlights from two of our speakers: Erin McCance, who discussed white-tailed deer and urban management issues in Winnipeg, and Brad Gates of AAA Gates Wildlife Control, who entertained and educated the group with discussions of wildlife proofing homes.


Direct download: 2014-10-20_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Episode 201: Rewilding Our Hearts

We can barely believe it’s been a full year since this project first started. In that year we’ve had dozens of interviews with internationally-recognized scientists and advocates. We’re heard one-on-one interviews with those who have witnessed tragedy and those who have stopped cruelty. We’ve worked with great people Psychologist and beaver believer Dr. Heidi Perryman, rock star and animal lover Bif Naked, photographer Jo-Anne McArthur and Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada. We’ve talked about issues ranging from wolf ecosystem protection and the natural history of beavers to keeping squirrels out of attics and how to talk about co-existence with your schools. And through it all, we’ve had you, our incredible supporters, listening in.

And what better way to start Season Two of Defender Radio than with two of our absolute favourite guests?

We’ll be hearing from Brad Gates, owner of AAA Gates Wildlife Control on raccoons in Toronto – why they’re here and how we can live alongside them, as well as Dr. Marc Bekoff, discussing his upcoming book, Rewildling Our Hearts.

Let’s get started with season two!

Direct download: 2014-10-13_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 02 -- posted at: 10:49am EDT

Episode 150: Living With Wildlife Preview

It’s been a long week for us at APFA – the celebration we were having over the RCMP’s decision to ditch their muskrat fur hats for their regular cold weather uniform was brought to an abrupt halt. The Conservative government stated they would overturn the decision in order to protect the fur industry.

You’ll hear more about this from one of our guests this week, but to get the details and sign the petition asking the government to honour the RCMP’s decision, check out or visit us on Facebook at or Twitter with @FurBearers

In addition to the media hoopla caused by the government’s decision, we’re also busy getting ready for the 2014 Living With Wildlife conference in Toronto. And this week, we’re bringing you interviews from two of our speakers.

Camille Labchuk, a former Green Party candidate and animal rights lawyer, will be presenting at the conference on October 17. She recently joined us to talk about her work using the law for the animals, as well as how she’s fighting the government’s overruling of the RCMP decision.

Following Camille will be Donna Doyle of the Town of Oakville’s Environmental Policy department. Donna has played a vital role in the development of a wildlife plan, an environmental plan and most recently a road ecology plan, leading the Town of Oakville to a higher standard of living for animals.

Direct download: 2014-10-06_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Episode 149: Protecting wolves on the prairies

The shocking news out of Saskatchewan that an additional 100 permits for hunting and trapping wolves in Wildlife Management Zone 49 made a splash across our social media platforms last week. In our blog, we told you that the Ministry of Environment is responding to an alleged increase in livestock predation from wolves and that population control was their only choice.

We disagreed.

We have long stated that co-existence is possible – be it with coyotes and raccoons in downtown Toronto or bears and wolves in rural Alberta. And this week, we’re bringing you two experts who will help us with that argument.

Louise Liebenberg, owner of The Graziere ranch in Alberta, will chat with us about Livestock Guardian Dogs – one of the oldest co-existence methods around, dating back hundreds of years in Eastern Europe. We’ll also hear from wolf expert Sadie Parr of about the realities of culling wolves and the implications it has for the ecosystem, as well the governments and landowners who stand behind the guns and traps.

Direct download: 2014-09-22_Defender_Radio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT

Episode 148: Back to school, week 2

We’re continuing our back to school series – focusing this week on the two-legged young who are eager to learn.

This week we’re happy to bring you two top humane educators. First up is Zoe Weil, co-founder and president of The Institute for Humane Education, who will share her thoughts on the importance of humane education in homes and classrooms, as well as the best way to get teachers on board with the rapidly growing demand for such lessons.

Following Zoe is Paula Neuman, Manager of Humane Education for the BC SPCA, who will talk about the success the west coast organization has had in teaching children – some of whom are today staff at the BC SPCA – what it means to be compassionate.

We know that many parents in British Columbia are struggling with keeping their children busy – and entertained – during a prolonged labour dispute between teachers and the province. We’re happy to inform you that our own lesson plans – with content ranging from K to 12 – is available to freely download at These lessons can serve as a great way to keep your children thinking and learning while awaiting their return to the classroom.


Direct download: 2014-09-15_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 01 -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

Episode 147: Going back to school