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 (






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,...


Mountain Caribou Habitat: Exceeding Disturbance Limits

Eighty-one per cent of BC’s southern mountain caribou local populations have lost more habitat than what’s needed for survival. That’s the lede from the Wilderness Committee news item announcing the release of the NGO’s report, State of Southern Mountain Caribou Habitat in BC: Exceeding Disturbance Limits. The fate of the mountain caribou in this region has been spotlighted in part due to their status under the Species at Risk Act and the controversial methods the government has utilized....


The Wild World of Ecotourism

Let’s talk about the economy. An exciting start to any conversation, right? Here’s the thing: events like Ontario’s spring bear hunt are pushed by governments because they look at the financial impact of them. But here’s the thing: hunting and trapping aren’t the only activities that bring in dollars to the province. In fact, ecotourism as a whole is a multi-billion dollar industry in Ontario and British Columbia – and hunting is a tiny fraction of the cash flow created. In the last episode...


The Case Against The Ontario Spring Bear Hunt

Well, there’s no nice way to put it: the Ontario government wants to make permanent the spring season for killing black bears. There’s a whole lot of reasons the Ontario spring bear hunt shouldn’t exist at all, let alone be made a permanent fixture. To explore the myriad of reasons it’s a bad idea and more completely outline the harm this hunt can and does cause, I was joined by bear expert Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre here in Ontario. TAKE ACTION: ...


Bill 156 Is Bad For Animals

Bill 156 is dangerous for animals. This legislation, introduced in late 2019, targets those who find their ways onto animal agricultural facilities and document disregard for animal welfare or individuals who are working on farms and become whistleblowers in the face of blatant animal cruelty. It even targets those who protest or bear witness for animals on their way to slaughter. It is billed as a way to protect the security of farmers and food production, but if that was the intent it...


An Important Announcement

There’s no interview this week but I do want to share with you a brief version of the 20-year history behind The Fur-Bearers’ quest to regain charitable status and what that could mean for the animals and for you! Here are some relevant links: Donate Now: Intuit Tax Article: Defender Radio Facebook: Defender Radio Twitter:...


Casavant on communicating complaints

We’ve all been angry at a situation and let it out on social media. It makes sense: that’s a place our friends and community can gather from afar and acknowledge our feelings and join in the process of venting. The trouble these days, however, seems to be when that’s all we do when we have legitimate concerns about policies or the actions of others, particularly those in a position of authority. When it comes to complaining, there’s not necessarily a right way, but there certainly are...


Ecological Grief And Why Scientists Need To Be Allowed To Cry

Tim Gordon is an Exeter University PhD student working on some fascinating solutions to help fish on coral reefs in Australia using sound. As cool as this research is, that’s not what brought Tim’s work to my attention: it was a short letter published in the journal Science. Titled, Grieving environmental scientists need support, Gordon co-wrote the letter with colleagues Andrew Radford and Stephen Simpson. It is a call for cultural change in the scientific community. Researchers are...