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No, Yukon does not have a ‘grizzly bear plague,’ experts say

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In the wake of a mother and her baby’s death in a bear mauling in Yukon last month, people have been sounding off online about a “plague” of grizzly bears in the territory — but biologists say that’s not true.

Valérie Théorêt and her 10-month-old daughter Adele were attacked and killed by a grizzly bear in late November at their remote trapping cabin at Einarson Lake near the N.W.T. border. The story of their deaths attracted international attention, making headlines around the world.

Théorêt’s partner and Adele’s father, Gjermund Roesholt, found their bodies after he shot the bear. The animal charged him as he returned from a day checking his​ trapline.

Popular TV hunting show host Jim Shockey runs an outfitting camp near Einarson​ Lake and he recently posted his reaction to the attack on social media.

“We are facing a grizzly bear plague in British Columbia and the Yukon,” Shockey wrote.

He goes on to blame the “highly regulated grizzly bear harvest quotas” for the recent attack, saying that “more grizzlies needed to be killed in the wilderness areas, particularly in the grizzly bear management zone that includes Einarson​ Lake.”

Shockey’s post is now being shared widely throughout Yukon.

But biologists disagree with his claims, saying there is no overpopulation of grizzlies and that culling bears would be “ridiculous.”

Population is stable

Barney Smith worked as the Yukon government’s bear biologist from 1978 to 1991, and developed population estimates for grizzlies. (Submitted by: Barney Smith)

According to Yukon’s Environment Department, there are about 6,000 to 7,000 grizzly bears in Yukon. Roxanne Stasyszyn, the department’s spokesperson, says there is no evidence of an overpopulation or unnatural aggressive bear behaviour in the Einarson​ Lake area.

Barney Smith, a retired bear biologist with the Yukon government, developed population estimates for Yukon’s grizzly bears in the 1980s. Those estimates formed the basis for hunting quotas in all outfitting areas, including the Einarson​ Lake area.

He says Yukon’s bear population is fairly stable and there are a few areas where it has actually declined because of human encroachment and historical over-hunting.

“You know, the bear populations tend to level out. They don’t keep increasing, they reproduce really slowly,” Smith said. “They’re not like rabbits or moose or wolves, or things that go through big, big cycles and changes.”

Smith says the bear population is delicate, mostly due to the fact that the survival rate for cubs is low. Cubs often die of starvation, in accidents, or they’re killed by an adult male grizzly looking to mate.

Killing bears won’t help, says expert

Fatal bear attacks are rare in Yukon. Before last month’s attack, there had been three bear-related deaths in the past 22 years in the territory — in 1996, 2006 and in 2014. All involved grizzlies, although black bears are also common throughout Yukon.

If you want to try to hunt bears to the point that we are eliminating danger to people, you’d be in for a blitzkrieg, an orgy of killing.– Stephen Herrero, bear attack expert

Stephen Herrero, a former professor at the University of Calgary, has spent more than 40 years studying and leading research on bear attacks and bear safety. He says relaxing hunting regulations to prevent further attacks won’t work.

“If you want to try to hunt bears to the point that we are eliminating danger to people, you’d be in for a blitzkrieg, an orgy of killing that wouldn’t solve the problem but sure would create a lot of havoc,” says Herrero.

Bear attack expert Stephen Herrero, seen here with grizzly skull, says trying to remove bears to keep people safe is ‘ridiculous.’ (Submitted by Stephen Herrero)

“Trying to remove them to the point that it’s safer for people verges on ridiculous. If you want to remove them you have to remove the whole ecosystem.

“Unfortunately, every once in a while a person is going to be seriously injured or killed by a bear … but not nearly as often as we have automobile accidents or other unlikely events.”

That’s why biologist Barney Smith is questioning just how much Jim Shockey actually knows about Yukon’s bear population.

“Mr. Shockey knows a lot about hunting and hunt management and the business side of outfitting,” says Smith. “But I’m not sure he knows much about bear population ecology.”

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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