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Bear sightings later into winter season could be the new norm, says expert

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Yukon conservation officers are seeing more bear activity further into the winter season this year, and they’re asking the public to stay vigilant.

A grizzly was euthanized just last week after wandering into the village of Mayo. Officials say the animal was stressed and in extremely poor condition.

They say the late bear activity can be the result of a number of factors.

“Bears may still be finding enough food on the land and feeding on some of these things,” said conservation officer Aaron Koss-Young.

Aaron Koss-Young is a conservation officer at Yukon’s Department of Environment who specializes in human-wildlife conflict prevention. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

“It might be worthwhile for them to keep on foraging. A bear may lack the required fat stores to successfully hibernate and become desperate. Or they could be sick or injured.”

The new norm

B.C. bear expert Lana Ciarniello confirms bears are being sighted later in the season across the country, and she believes this will be the new norm.

“It’s something we’re actually watching and researching as climate change takes effect,” she said. 

“We’re seeing it throughout Canada — in areas where it’s warming and where the winters are staying warmer, the bears are staying out longer.”

The situation is worrying, she says, because it prolongs the period during which humans and bears can come into conflict.

“We are absolutely going to have to change our behaviour,” said Ciarniello.

Yukon environment officials are reminding people to remain “bear aware” and not let their guards down.

“Bear spray can be effective, even in the winter, if it’s kept warm,” said Koss-Young. He recommends people check with the manufacturer, and carry the spray inside their jackets.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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