Defender Radio: The Podcast for Wildlife Advocates and Animal Lovers-logo

Defender Radio: The Podcast for Wildlife Advocates and Animal Lovers


Defender Radio is the world's top wildlife protection podcast. It is hosted by award-winning journalist Michael Howie and presented by The Fur-Bearers (

Defender Radio is the world's top wildlife protection podcast. It is hosted by award-winning journalist Michael Howie and presented by The Fur-Bearers (


Hamilton, ON




Defender Radio is the world's top wildlife protection podcast. It is hosted by award-winning journalist Michael Howie and presented by The Fur-Bearers (






Nathaniel Erskine-Smith: ePetitions and the Animal Welfare Caucus

Getting governments to change isn’t easy; often, there are roadblocks in the path to communicating an issue, particularly ones related to non-human animals. There are tools out there, however, that are making it easier and more effective for Canadian parliamentarians to hear from constituents and learn more about issues related to animals in Canada. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York, sponsored House of Commons Petition e-3096, drafted by The Fur-Bearers calling on...


Coyote Conversations: Aversion Conditioning For Urban Coyotes

As we press through these colder months of the winter, I’m seeing more questions about coyotes pop up on social media and traditional media. Of course, this is often in response to bad memes or misinformation designed to frighten people, rather than educate them. Check out for some the articles we’ve written to try and respond to these concerns. But it’s also an opportunity to talk about aversion conditioning – commonly referred to as hazing – and the role it can play in...


PPE and Plastic Pollution

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a lot of change in the world in the last 13 months. One of the most notable, unfortunately, is an increase in plastic waste entering our oceans. Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, which is frequently made with plastics more than doubled in size as a global industry in response to the pandemic. Oceans Asia, a non-profit focused on marine conservation, released a dire report indicating 1.56 billion facemasks entered the marine environment in 2020. But...


Coexistence with Bears Starts with Humans

Luci Cudman, the executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society and Ellie Lamb, bear behaviour expert and bear viewing guide and instructor joined me for a call the late days of fall 2020 to talk about how our actions – and inactions – impact the behaviour of bears, why some strategies to coexist aren’t as successful as others, and how we as individuals can truly make a difference for bears and other animals in our communities.


Hidden: Jo-Anne McArthur on the latest book from We Animals Media

I’ve got good news, better news and bad news, folks. The good news is that yesterday a book launched that will change minds, hearts and lives around the world. The better news is that Jo-Anne McArthur, co-editor of this book, took time out of an incredibly busy schedule this morning to chat with me about it. The bad news is that, because it’s 2020, the recording software I use didn’t record my side of our conversation. Which, for many, may be the best news of all. Let’s start at the...


Center for Contemporary Sciences: Changing the Paradigm on Animal Testing

A lot of animals are tested upon and killed in the name of science, particularly biomedical research. In conversation, many people adopt a utilitarian attitude – the lives and deaths of these non-human animals is to benefit human health, an acceptable trade off. But what if it wasn’t benefiting human health – and what if, before the experiments even began, there was a solid chance the research would never, ever have human applications? Those are some of the questions being posed by the...


Getting To Know The Anthrozoology Podcast

Anthrozoology is a fascinating field of study – simply put, it examines the interactions between humans and other animals. This is a broad concept, which is why so many fields overlap with it: anthropology, biology, philosophy, psychology and more. To me, the concept of combining these fields is daunting and intimidating; but thanks to many dedicated and passionate anthrozoologists, I’ve found the journals and discussions more approachable than many other, more specific disciplines. Among...


Attitudes on Animal Use Are Evolving

In a world with a 24-hour news cycle, robot trolls on the internet and unprecedented political changes, knowing where we stand on some core issues can be a bit… difficult. Fortunately, there are tools that can cut through the noise and help us find answers to understand where Canadians and Americans stand on animal-related matters. Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., polled Canadians and Americans on their views regarding eating animals, hunting for meat, trophy hunting, keeping...


B.C. Selling Roads To Caribou Destruction

It’s season eight! We’ve got a lot to catch up on – the pandemic, the outstanding contest, what’s going on with The Fur-Bearers and more – and we will catch up on all of that with a special episode soon. This week I want to dive right into our interview because of the timeliness and need for action on this issue. Southern Mountain caribou in British Columbia are on the brink of collapse – and despite promises to create endangered species legislation, the last government continued to auction...


Beyond Shark Week

Shark Week has come and gone for the year, but your chance to learn and celebrate sharks can go thanks to a new book that brings together academic study and the thrill of learning about the ocean’s great predators. Shark Biology and Conservation: Essentials for Educators, Students and Enthusiasts is set to publish September 1, 2020 by John Hopkins Press. The title may be dry, but the authors, Drs. Daniel Abel and Dean Grubbs, bring a clear passion and naturalist view of shark biology that...


Safe Passage: Exploring predator-prey dynamics in wildlife corridors

Wildlife corridors are a great idea: they connect habitats and ecosystems, allowing animals of all types to safely get across roads. As over 20,000 animals are killed, 570 motorists injured and $700,000 spent for clean up of animal-vehicle collisions in BC according to, corridors are also a wise investment. They come in many shapes and sizes, but generally are under or above ground passages that allow for safe passage where humans travelling at high-speeds represent a...


The State Of Animal Advocacy

Animal advocacy is a huge community. There’s folks like us at The Fur-Bearers, who focus on wildlife coexistence, habitat issues and a specific commercial issue; there’s groups like Coyote Watch Canada or North Shore Black Bear Society who focus on specific wildlife; then there’s groups who focus on farmed animals, domesticated animals, vegan principles, international policy, local policy and more. In short: it’s a huge community. As such, when we ask the question, “How ya doing, animal...


Wolf Cull Science

British Columbia has ordered the killing of hundreds of wolves as part of their caribou recovery plan in recent years. You can hear more about this plan, the maternal penning and ongoing habitat destruction in episodes past. A 2019 study gave scientific support to killing wolves to protect the caribou – despite widespread opposition, it largely became government policy. But this summer, a new paper was published that not only challenges the first study, but points to multiple flaws that may...


Essay: On Media Blaming Wildlife For Human Conflict

Media outlets paint wildlife as the perpetrators of actions against people. But in their own recounting of events, they show how humans often started the conflicts. Former journalist and host of Defender Radio Michael Howie explores this issue and asks the questions that went unanswered by media outlets when humans and wildlife come into conflict. This audio essay was first published at All associated links...


Vindicated: Former Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant On His Five Year Fight

Nearly five years ago to the day, then-Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant famously refused an order to unnecessarily kill two healthy bear cubs; he was suspended, effectively fired and eventually left government service entirely. But just a few weeks ago, justices in BC’s appellant court ruled that the province did not play by their own rules, meaning Bryce has been, in a word, vindicated. Today, Bryce shared the story of how doing the right thing left him in a legal battle with the...


The Bear Necessities

Black bears are common throughout much of Canada and, despite their gentleness and general lack of interest in people, end up the accused source of conflict with people regularly. Unfortunately, that also means that law enforcement agencies are the ones responding to, and frequently killing bears. These agencies can lack training, funding and/or third-party oversight of officer discretion in the field. Bears pay for the mistakes made by people. And that’s why organizations like The...



I have no words this week. There is nothing I can say that will soften the hurt facing people in North America, and particularly Indigenous peoples and people of colour. This is not the time for my voice. Now is the time for the voice of those who must be heard. This week, instead of Defender Radio, which will return next week with two new interviews, I hope you will join me in listening to podcasts created by Indigenous peoples and people of colour. A few that I’ve enjoyed...


Getting to know coyotes

How can you tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote? What’s a coywolf? Do they live alone or in packs? Are their packs like wolves, or different? We asked for questions and we got ‘em! A few weeks back, I asked on social media what your questions would be for Lesley Sampson, Founder and Executive Director at Coyote Watch Canada. You answered. And then you kept on answering! Between Defender Radio and Coyote Watch Canada’s social media, we had two packed pages of questions to go over...


Coronavirus, the animals and us

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The last time I posted an episode it was February and a global health emergency was landing hard in Canada and the United States. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but a lot of questions remain. You’re probably not going to get answers to those questions on this podcast. But what you’re going to hear is a solid summary of what we know about coronavirus and its link to animals, a conversation about the difficulty in...


The Animal Link With Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a hot topic in the news – the novel virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019, is spreading around the world. As of the time of this recording, Canada has 14 confirmed cases of the new virus also known as COVID 19, with at least one other suspected awaiting testing, and the United States has confirmed 53 cases. Worldwide, the virus has impacted at least 31 countries. If you’re anything like me and have the lovely combination of news junkie and anxiety disorder,...