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Parks Canada spent $731,000 to kill 122 moose in Cape Breton park

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When a Mi’kmaq hunter shoots a moose in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the meat feeds children, hides are used in clothing, and there’s one fewer ungulate damaging the park’s vulnerable forest.

However, some citizens question whether an average taxpayer price tag of slightly over $7,900 per animal has been justified.

More than 120 moose have been killed since the program was introduced three years ago. Ottawa flies in Aboriginal hunters into the park, and helps them remove the carcass, with the food distributed to Mi’kmaq communities and food banks across Nova Scotia.

The five-year Bring Back The Boreal Forest reforestation and hunting pilot program saw its budget double from $1 million to $2.1 million, Parks Canada says.

Helicopters used to help hunt

Park conservation manager Rob Howey argues the harvest of 122 animals from an estimated herd of 1,800 since the fall of 2015 has been a worthwhile expenditure.

“Parks Canada has a proven track record of effective ecosystem management and population reduction is only used in situations where it’s absolutely considered necessary,” he said in an interview.

The current hunt is expected to conclude in the first week of December.

He said the use of helicopters is an efficient method for about six Mi’kmaq harvesters to hunt them and then remove the carcass from rugged terrain in the 20-square-kilometre pilot project.

He says early monitoring of the twigs of balsam fir and spruce the moose feed on in the experimental area has shown a significant decrease in the numbers of trees being eaten before they have a chance to grow.

Preliminary results from a study area showed about half of the twigs were being eaten four years ago, while this year 90 per cent of the twigs being studied were untouched — increasing the chances the forest will regenerate.

However, Rose Courage, a retiree who owns a craft shop in northern Cape Breton, says her access-to-information research applications have led her to view the hunt as overly costly to taxpayers.

Policing costs added $233K to bill

Parks Canada’s total cost for the first three harvests was $731,000 with 122 moose harvested, with the biggest ticket items being travel and overtime costs for park wardens, helicopter flights into the remote area, and the cost of airborne moose surveys.

Meanwhile, documents Courage obtained from the RCMP through access to information for the fall period of 2015 and 2016 added about $233,000 in policing costs, with an added $7,141 for overtime last fall. The total doesn’t include the basic salary costs of Mounties for the last hunting season, which the RCMP says is not available.

The Mounties point out in an email that in early years there were protests and opposition that needed police resources, and the costs have fallen since then.

Overall, the average cost of just over $7,900 per moose death is obtained by dividing the Parks and RCMP totals with the 122 moose the park says it had killed in the study area up until last year.

Other access-to-information documents indicate that in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, the estimated cost to hunt moose is $1,000 to $1,500 plus the cost of meat distribution, for a program with a similar purpose of forest regeneration, though where terrain and access may differ.

Killing moose ‘should be a last resort’

Courage suggests increasing the use of fenced enclosures to keep moose out of certain areas of the park — a tactic the park is also using — is preferable to the intensive hunting methods.

“Cost doesn’t seem to be a huge issue as they’ve already spent close to $1 million killing moose. I believe killing an animal in a national park should be a last resort and it seems to me there are other options,” she said.

A spokesman for the volunteer Mi’kmaq hunters say there are significant benefits to their communities and to food banks from the thousands of kilograms of meat regarded as a delicacy by the First Nation.

The moose are among the most prized animals in traditional Mi’kmaq culture, hunted for millennia and with every part of the animal used for food, tools and cultural artifacts.

The Cape Breton hunt has provided meat for Mi’kmaq communities across the province, and some hides were turned into drums by an elder for distribution to schools, says Clifford Paul, moose management co-ordinator at Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources.

Over three years, the harvest of moose represented over 56,000 pounds of meat, representing 168,000 meals.

“From a Mi’kmaq point of view we’re out there to provide and we’re out there to share,” said Paul.

Cost has declined 

Meanwhile, some of the costs in the early years are decreasing, say the RCMP and Parks Canada. Howey estimated this year’s cost for the harvest is approximately $150,000. In 2015, the cost was $292,000.

Howey said it’s not yet known if further harvesting will continue.

“We’re going to take back all the results analyze and determine what the best approach might be to restore the boreal forest. Ultimately that’s our goal. … No decisions have been made past 2018,” he said.

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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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