Week of October 13, 2008

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Beyond the Great Lakes

Bear poaching leads to Federal Conviction and Prison

Poaching pays off – but not as anticipated

WILMINGTON, N.C. – Surveillance and investigation into bear poaching in eastern North Carolina by officers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has led to a federal firearms conviction.


Michael Comstock, 50, of Columbia, N.C. was sentenced Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court to six years and six months in prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, plus three years supervised probation upon his release. On Oct. 6 he also

pleaded guilty in state court to hunting during a closed season, which resulted in a $2,000 fine, replacement costs of $2,232 and suspension of his hunting license for two years, effective beginning when released from federal prison. He also had to pay court costs of $121.


The investigation, which began April 2007, included a stakeout and apprehension of a suspect and collection of evidence including a recently killed bear, a stolen 12-guage shotgun that had been recently fired, as well as observation of hunting dogs released at the bait site where the bear was killed that same morning.


High Court May Bar Groups From Contesting Federal Rules

WASHINGTON, DC, (ENS) - The U.S. Supreme Court on October 8 appeared sympathetic to a legal position held by the Bush administration that  would limit environmentalists and other public interest groups from challenging federal regulations.


The case centers on a dispute over rules imposed by the U.S. Forest Service, but legal experts contend the court's ultimate decision could have  far-reaching impacts and make it nearly impossible for many individuals and third parties to contest rules enacted by federal agencies. The origins of the case lie in regulations enacted in 2003 that limited some federal timber sales and logging projects from general federal notice,  comment and appeal procedures.


The 2003 Forest Service rules affected timber projects of less than 250 acres and "forest thinning" projects of 1,000 acres or less. The agency applied these rules to a decision it made in September 2003 authorizing a salvage timber sale in the Sequoia National Forest. The Burnt  Ridge Project covered 238 acres of land burned in a massive fire that ravaged the California forest in 2002.


A coalition of environmental groups sued to block the sale. The Forest Service subsequently withdrew the sale and settled the case, but environmental groups challenged the underlying regulations, arguing Feds violated the Forest Service's Appeals Reform Act when it enacted the  rules. A U.S. district court sided with the environmental groups, blocking implementation of the regulations nationwide.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, prompting the Bush administration to appeal to the Supreme Court. U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said the legal challenge should be dismissed because the original dispute over the Burnt Ridge Project has been settled.


The environmental groups lack standing to challenge the underlying regulations, Kneedler told the court, because they only have the right to challenge specific implementations of the rules. Third parties must wait until a procedural rule is applied before challenging it, Kneedler explained, otherwise it is not "ripe" for review. "The procedural regulation does not cause the injury," Kneedler said.


Further, Kneedler argued, the district court did not have the authority to impose a nationwide injunction on the regulations. Other than the Burnt Ridge Project, the environmental groups had not pointed to any other "concrete action" affected the regulations, Chief Justice Roberts said.


"It seems like a high hurdle for you to surmount," he told the plaintiffs. "You haven't shown any standing with respect to the Burnt Ridge Project  on an ongoing basis because that has been settled. It's outweighed - it's out the door." Kneedler added that blocking "facial challenges" to the  rules did not shut such individuals out of the process. "These are people who pay very, very close attention to what the Forest Service is  doing," he told the court.


The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision early next year.

Final Falconry regs published

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a major revision to the regulations governing falconry in the U.S. and its  territories. The changes, published in last week's Federal Register, simplify the agency’s regulations and reflect current practices in the traditional  use of raptors for sport hunting.


“Falconers care deeply about wild raptors, hunting and the legacy of their sport,” said Service Director H. Dale Hall. “At the request of state fish  and wildlife agencies and falconers nationwide, the new regulations streamline the permitting process and clarify what is considered as  acceptable falconry practices.”


Highlights include:

►Eliminating the federal permit, going with state, tribal or territorial permits. Dual state/federal permitting will be  eliminated

►Establishment of electronic reporting of the acquisition, transfer or loss of falconry raptors, to replace current paper system

►Use of experienced falconers to assist federal and state-permitted wildlife rehabilitators in conditioning raptors for release to wild


The Service first proposed the revisions and opened a public comment period on February 9, 2005, in response to a request from the Association  of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (state fish and wildlife agencies).  The request asked the Service to consider eliminating the duplicative  federal/state falconry permit system. During the 90 day public comment period, the Service received 967 comments from individuals and  organizations, including 30 from states and 3 from other government entities on the proposed rule.

The final rule can be found at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Oct. 10, 2008

Weather Conditions: 

Temperatures were unseasonably cool throughout the much of the Great Lakes region early in the week, but began to warm up on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In addition, the vast majority of the region experienced rain on Tuesday and Wednesday as well.  The warming trend will continue into the weekend, as temperatures are expected to be about 8 to 10 degrees above average over most of the basin.  There is a good chance rain may appear in the far western portion of the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron basins, otherwise it will be dry over the weekend.

Lake Level Conditions: 

Currently, every one of the Great Lakes is above their levels of a year ago, ranging from 2 to 8 inches higher than what they were at this time last year.  All of the Great Lakes are in their periods of seasonal decline and are predicted to drop over the next 30 days.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are predicted to drop 1 to 2 inches, while Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are projected to drop 4 to 6 inches.  Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Ontario are forecasted to remain above their levels of a year ago over the next several months, while Lake Erie is projected to remain at around last year's level. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

In September, the outflows through the St. Mary's, St. Clair, Detroit, and Niagara Rivers were below average while the outflow from the St. Lawrence River was above average.


Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.






St. Clair



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Wildlife Watching in the United States

Economic impacts on National and State Economies

A new report recently released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that expenditures for wildlife watching are equivalent to the revenues  generated from all spectator sports, amusement parks and arcades, non-hotel casinos, bowling centers and skiing facilities combined.  Using data  from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the Service’s new addendum report Wildlife Watching in  the United States: The Economic Impacts on National and State Economies in 2006 shows wildlife watching not only contributes significantly to  people’s enjoyment of the outdoors but is a major factor in the state and national economies.


In 2006, the direct expenditures of wildlife watchers generated $122.6 billion in total industrial output.  This resulted in 1,063,482 jobs, a federal tax revenue of $9.3 billion, and a state and local tax revenue of $8.9 billion.  The report details the economic impacts of wildlife watching expenditures by State.  The top 5 States ranked by economic output  include California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York.  Direct expenditures by wildlife watchers were for items such as

cameras, binoculars and  bird food, as well as trip-related expenses such as lodging, transportation and food.


The report addresses participation nationwide in wildlife watching, associated expenditures and estimates of the total economic activity  generated by these expenditures.  In addition, it addresses the total employment and income associated with wildlife watching expenditures and  estimates of the generated state and federal tax revenue.  In 2006, nearly 71 million Americans (16 years of age and older) spent more than $45 billion observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife.


Wildlife Watching in the United States: The Economic Impacts on National and State Economies in 2006 is available at  http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2006_economics.pdf 


In addition to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation report, individual state reports have also been completed.  For more info:  http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/reports


I-65 America's First Biofuels Corridor

E85 Ethanol, B20 Biodiesel available entire length of I-65

INDIANAPOLIS – Interstate 65 is now America’s First Biofuels Corridor with the conclusion of a project to make E85 Ethanol and B20 Biodiesel available the entire length of the Interstate, from Gary, IN to Mobile, AL.   A driver is now no more than a quarter-tank’s drive from a fuel retailer carrying E85.


This $1.3 million federal project involved Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, the four states through which I-65 travels. To mark the completion of the project, project officials and partners conducted a Fall Corridor Drive, October 7-9, 2008.   One group started at Mobile and drove north, with the other started at Gary driving south.  There were a series of simultaneous news conferences along the corridor over the three days of the Drive. The two groups met at Clarksville, IN on October 9 one final celebration.


"Indiana has been a leader in biofuels accessibility along the I-65 corridor and across the State," said Governor Mitch Daniels. "This initiative is making it even easier for those who travel in Indiana and other states in the heartland to make fueling decisions that have a positive impact on our energy independence."


In 2005, there were no E85 or B20 fueling stations along I-65. With the completion of this project, there are 31 refueling

stations easily accessible from the Interstate. Overall, Indiana now has 123 biofuels refueling locations, Tennessee has 50, Kentucky has 34 and Alabama has 13. Those lists continue to expand.


The project, which was started in 2006, partially funded infrastructure improvements to allow the sale of E85, B20 or both at fuel retailers along the corridor.   Partners in the project include the U.S. Department of Energy, the Indiana Office of Energy & Defense Development, the State of Tennessee BIOTENN Partnership, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) , the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance, Inc. (CICCA), South Shore Clean Cities, Inc. (SSCC), the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA), Indiana Corn Growers Association, America Lung Association of Indiana, the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition (KCFC), the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, General Motors and the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).


E85 (up to 85% ethanol, 15 % gasoline) can be used in any vehicle designed to use “FlexFuels.” A guide to determine whether a vehicle is FlexFuel-ready may be found at www.biofuelsindiana.com.   B20 (20 % biodiesel, 80 % petroleum-based diesel) may be used in any diesel engine. Ethanol is a distilled, alcohol-based fuel derived from crops such corn. Biodiesel is produced from soybeans and other plants that produce oil.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie power plant big fish killer

How many others are chewing up game/forage fish

Lake Erie’s First Energy Bayshore power plant may be the biggest fish killer in the Great Lakes.


Studies conducted in 2005 and 2006 and released recently show 46 million fish caught against the screens - 126,000 a day and 2.2 billion - 6 million a day - mostly larval fish that go through the screens.


But it doesn’t end here and this may not be the worst of it. Power plants, and there are scores of them in the Great Lakes, chew up our game and forage fish, as well as related eggs and larvae.  Industrial facilities — power plants, oil refineries and factories — draw water from our rivers and lakes to cool their generators and other equipment.


The largest of these plants suck in several billion gallons of water each day, killing enormous numbers of aquatic organisms at all life stages -   aquatic life on an almost unimaginable scale - while also trapping larger adult fish and wildlife on intake screens. Microorganisms, floating fish eggs and larvae are drawn through heat exchanging equipment and dumped back into waterways dead. fish, sea turtles and marine mammals are pinned against the intake screens. a trillion fish are killed each year.


Like giant vacuums, power plants suck in massive amounts of water from our waterways, indiscriminately devour aquatic life and spew heated, lifeless water downstream.


To illustrate, Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant near Two Rivers, Wis., closed down for three days because their warm water discharge attracted a school of alewives approximately 100 yards wide and over a quarter mile long, clogging their

water intake screens.


Oak Creek, WI power plant, a part of Wisconsin's largest utility was embroiled in a lawsuit brought on in part by Racine's S.C. Johnson & Son. University of Michigan water scientist David Jude, who was hired by S.C. Johnson & Son -- a party to the Supreme Court lawsuit -- to investigate the potential impact, said the plants' intake valve system, the hot water and construction would hurt the lake's food chain.   "It's probably going to kill all the aquatic life in some places," Jude said. "This is bigger than any other power plant on the Great Lakes, so it's sort of unprecedented."


The Wisconsin DNR went ahead and approved their building permit anyway, including allowing the plant to draw 2.2 billion gallons of water from Lake Michigan each day, then return it to the lake 15 degrees warmer.


Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact to aquatic organisms that are impinged (being pinned against screens or outer part of a cooling water intake structure) or entrained (being drawn into and through cooling water systems).   Phase II of the 316(b) rule for existing electric generating plants was designed to reduce impingement mortality by 80-95% and, if applicable, entrainment by 60-90%. 


But, are these water intake plants adhering to the Clean Water Act; this critical segment of federal regulations that so affects our nation’s precious and not unlimited aquatic resources?


The first of future articles on this subject, we will be visiting the issue more in depth.

New York

Autumn Blast -- Oswego County Is Prime Hunting Habitat

Autumn enriches Oswego County, NY immensely. Everywhere you look, fields are dressed in gold, trees are decked out in quivering blazes of color, and woods and waters teem with tasty wildlife. It’s a great time to be outdoors indulging in this sensuous feast. And one of the best ways to do it is by fulfilling mankind’s oldest mandate: hunting.


Largely rural, Oswego County offers a wide variety of game habitats. You name it; it’s here -- from sprawling bottomland forests clinging to hundreds of miles of waterfront and massive tapestries of woods and farms woven over the heartland to swamps and marshes.


Best of all, Oswego County contains a wealth of public hunting land, roughly 40,000 acres, in fact. Most of it is within earshot of the road, and that’s an important consideration if you’re pressed for time.


Migratory waterfowl

With Lake Ontario forming the county’s northern border, Oneida Lake and its outlet tracing the southern boundary, the Oswego and Salmon Rivers and numerous smaller streams running through it like a massive web, and countless ponds, lakes and reservoirs scattered around like spots on a steelhead, the county is a fowl haven.


Two popular spots to drop some ducks are Deer Creek Marsh, in the Town of Richland, and Three Mile Bay/Big Bay, on the north shore of Oneida Lake, Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).


If you’re really pressed for time, camouflage a canoe and head for Lake Neahtahwanta, on Fulton’s west side. You can launch at Bullhead Point right on NY 3 and hunt within earshot of city traffic.


Big Game

Whitetails are the most popular game around. Deer hunting is so ingrained in local culture, the season’s opening day is treated like a national holiday -- without pay, of course.  


Frank, a native of Pulaski, considers Deer Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Town of Richland  the county’s top spot for deer, claiming “the place seems to hold a disproportionate number of big bucks compared to the other public lands around here.”  However, each of the county's 15 public parcels (state forests, restoration areas and WMAs ) offers prime deer haunts.

One has bear, too. A map in the current “New York Hunting and Trapping Guide” shows that bear have moved into the rugged wilderness of the Littlejohn WMA. However, Oswego County doesn’t fall into any of the state’s three bear zones, so hunting them in Littlejohn isn't allowed.


Still, this 8,020-acre parcel has such deep woods, its fans claim it harbors the largest bucks in the county. In addition it has good populations of smaller game ranging from ruffed grouse to squirrel and coyotes.



Oswego County’s rolling and rural terrain offers good turkey habitat, too. DEC’s fabulously successful turkey restoration efforts have spread vast quantities of this delicious fowl throughout Oswego County, making it one of the best bets in the state to bag the bird.


Small Game

Squirrels and cottontail rabbits can be found in every forest and field, respectively. Oswego County’s harsh winters are challenging for pheasant but the state stocks them in the Three Mile Bay and Deer Creek WMA. In addition, escapees from Deer Creek Motel's Pheasant Shooting Preserve, right across the street from its namesake WMA, join the spot’s population, making Deer Creek the most productive WMA in the county for these colorful birds.


Oswego County also offers varying hare (aka snowshoe) hunting. According to Gary Pratt, a state wildlife biologist with DEC Region 7, “snowshoe populations have been down recently but have improved this year.”


Pratt says Littlejohn WMA and nearby Winona State Forest have the most hare.   October paints Oswego County’s forests into a sight to behold. By heading out on a hunt, you’ll saturate your senses with nature’s most luscious period, and possibly bring home some organic meat for the pot.


For a copy of the “Oswego County Fishing and Hunting Guide” containing  a map showing the locations of all public hunting grounds, contact the Oswego County Tourism Office, 46 E. Bridge Street, Oswego, NY  13126; 800-248-4FUN (4386); or download a copy by going to www.visitoswegocounty.com and clicking on brochures.


Ohio and OSU Launch Steelhead Survey

Study seeks input on world-class steelhead fishing

COLUMBUS - Steelhead anglers along Lake Erie's shoreline and tributaries are being surveyed by the Ohio DNR and The Ohio State University,  seeking angler feedback on Ohio's world-class steelhead fishery.


"This comprehensive creel survey is the first of its kind in almost 25 years," reported Kevin Kayle, fish biology supervisor for the Division of  Wildlife's Fairport Fish Research Station.  "The survey provides an excellent opportunity for us to gauge the popularity of this fishery, measure  angler success, sizes of fish harvested, and use of access areas."


The Division of Wildlife stocks 400,000 yearling steelhead each year in five northern Ohio streams: the Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand  rivers and Conneaut Creek.  These surveys will help

measure the quality of opportunities provided by these stockings, and allow comparisons  with other steelhead fisheries throughout the Great Lakes. 


Division personnel, known as creel clerks, began surveying steelhead anglers the first weekend in October and will continue the project through  early May. Creel clerks also will encourage the anglers to participate in a follow-up mail survey conducted in cooperation with Dr. Jeremy  Bruskotter of The Ohio State University. It is anticipated that the mail survey will provide additional insights regarding these anglers' opinions,  habits and fishing preferences, and how the fishery contributes to local economies. Bruskotter's mail survey will begin this December and  continue through 2009.


A random selection of all fishing license holders also will be invited to participate in the survey to determine how steelheaders compare to other Ohio anglers.

Ohio approves grants to fund trail improvements

COLUMBUS, OH - The DNR Division of Real Estate and Land Management will provide grant funding to eight organizations that will develop  and improve trails throughout the state.


ODNR has approved projects totaling $931,940 for FY 2008 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Non-Motorized Grants. All of the projects are  associated with a regional or statewide trail system

including the Ohio to Erie Trail, Great Miami River Bikeway and the

Kokosing Gap Trail. The  funds will be used to develop 1.8 miles of new trail, seal 6.5 miles of existing trail, improve three bridges and develop a tunnel.


Due to limited funding available for non-motorized recreation, a $150,000 ceiling was established for individual awards.

For more info: http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/10762/Default.aspx

ODNR Awards $2.3 Million to Improve Boating Access

Public access to be improved at 12 Facilities

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft has awarded a total of $2,343,984 in Cooperative Boating Access Facility Program grants to improve public boating access next year at twelve sites across Ohio.


The grant awards range from a low of $27,000 for construction of a pathway for nonmotorized boat access to the Hocking River in Athens County to a high of $825,000 for boat ramp improvements at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware County. Other funded projects are located in Clermont, Defiance, Hamilton, Harrison, Highland, Lawrence, Lucas,  Muskingum, Summit and Washington, counties.


The Cooperative Boating Access Facility Grant Program is funded through the Ohio Waterways Safety Fund, which is comprised of a portion of the state motor fuels tax, watercraft registration and titling fees and funding from the U.S. Coast Guard. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and administered by the ODNR Division of Watercraft to improve recreational boating access for the state's estimated 3 million boaters.


Boating Access Facility Program Grants:

ATHENS COUNTY - The City of Athens was awarded $27,000 for construction of an access path to improve access to the Hocking River for nonmotorized boats.

CLERMONT COUNTY - The Village of New Richmond was awarded $113,984 for Phase II construction of boarding docks at the Augusta Street boat launch.

DELAWARE COUNTY - Ohio State Parks was awarded $825,000 for replacement and improvements of the Hollenback launch ramp

on Alum Creek Lake.

DEFIANCE COUNTY - Defiance County was awarded $200,000 for construction of a new handicap accessible floating courtesy dock, access path and lighting along the Maumee River.

HAMILTON COUNTY - The City of Cincinnati was awarded $208,000 for Phase II construction of the Schmidt Boat ramp facility along the Ohio River.

HARRISON COUNTY - The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District was awarded a grant of $400,000 to replace portions of the existing boat ramp, replace restroom facilities, add handicap-accessible courtesy docks and parking lot improvements.

HIGHLAND COUNTY - Ohio State Parks was awarded $120,000 for restroom and parking lot improvements at the East Shore Drive boat launch ramp on Rocky Fork Lake.

LAWRENCE COUNTY - The City of Ironton was awarded $30,000 to conduct a planning study for construction of a new transient docking facility along the Ohio River.

LUCAS COUNTY - The City of Toledo was awarded $100,000 for construction of a boating access facility for nonmotorized boats along the Ottawa River.

MUSKINGUM COUNTY - The City of Zanesville was awarded $100,000 for Phase II construction of a courtesy dock at the Riverside Park boat ramp along the Muskingum River.

SUMMIT COUNTY - Ohio State Parks was awarded $20,000 for the purchase and placement of a restroom facility at Portage Lakes State Park

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The City of Marietta was awarded $200,000 for construction of a handicap accessible courtesy dock and pathway  and to add lighting at the boat launch ramp in Harmar Village.


Hunters urged to help eliminate feral pigs

MADISON – State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters to help eliminate a growing problem population of feral pigs by reporting feral pig sightings or shooting them if they encounter them in the field while pursuing other game.


“Free roaming pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food,” says Brad Koele a DNR wildlife biologist. “They’re also efficient predators preying on many species including white-tailed deer fawns and ground nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys, and songbirds.”


Feral pigs are known to carry a number of diseases of importance to the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis; infected feral pigs have not yet been documented in Wisconsin.  “Our goal is to aggressively remove these animals from the landscape and we are encouraging any hunters who encounter them to shoot them on sight,” said Koele.


Feral pigs are also known as wild pigs, wild hogs, wild boars, European wild boars, Russian wild boars, or razorbacks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says they can be found in as many as 39 states and some experts estimate their population at 4 million in the United States. In some states they are descendents of European swine released by Spanish and European explorers. In others, they are descendents of escaped or released domestic swine or even hybrids of European and domestic swine.

Hunting feral pigs in Wisconsin

Feral pigs have now been found in at least 29 Wisconsin counties. Information on feral pig hunting, including a list of counties where feral pigs have been sighted or killed, is available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site. Maps showing public hunting grounds are also available DNR Managed Lands then Recreational Lands for opportunities to perhaps find wild pigs on public hunting grounds.


Feral pigs are considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round. The only day they cannot be hunted with a gun is the Friday before the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Also, hunting hours are the same as deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions.


There is no bag limit on feral pigs. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig as long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license, or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.


State officials do ask that anyone shooting a feral pig call a DNR service center or contact a DNR wildlife biologist so that blood and tissue samples can be collected for disease testing in collaboration with USDA and the State veterinarians office.  Feral pig sightings can be reported through the DNR Web site or by calling Brad Koele, Wildlife Damage Specialist at (608) 266-2151.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

Reproduction by others without written permission is prohibited.

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