News Hound archive: Through July 28, 2006

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    posted July 28, 2006

    No cells or radios hunting moose in Vermont

    A Vermont jury has found three hunters guilty of illegally using portable radios to assist them while tracking a wounded moose during last October's hunting season, a violation of state game laws.

    On Tuesday, Judge Robert Bent fined John Glodgett, his brother William Glodgett and David Valley $252 and assessed five points each against their hunting and fishing licenses.

    Game wardens discovered the violation while monitoring two-way radio traffic as they patrolled the hunting area and heard the men talking to each other on radios.

    Vermont law prohibits the use of portable radios or cell phones to hunt moose, though the devices are legal for deer hunting. Moose hunters are permitted to use radios only when a moose is recovered by the permit holder and tagged.

    The Vermont regulation goes back to the state's first modern-era moose hunt held in 1993, when only 30 permits were issued.

    At that time, authorities were concerned that a permit holder may seek to enlist the help of numerous hunting companions with the aid of radios, violating rules of ethics and fair chase in the process.

    By contrast, more than 2,000 moose permits will be issued for Vermont's 2006 moose season.

    Regulations regarding the use of cell phones and two-way radios while hunting vary from state to state.

    These days, when most of us carry a cell phone with us everywhere, it helps to know what the rules are — lest we want to land in front of a judge and jury or potentially lose our hunting privileges. FORUM | MAILBAG

    Back jammin' on the Salmon

    U.S. Forest Service crews successfully blasted a 50-foot logjam on the Middle Fork of Idaho's Salmon River midday Wednesday, allowing hundreds of anxious rafters stuck behind the debris since Monday to continue their trips downriver that evening.

    About 300 rafters became stranded in the wilderness on Monday when a backcountry pilot saw the logjam on the class IV Pistol Creek Rapid and warned rafting outfitters about the obstructions.

    The jam was the result of a backcountry "blowout," after stationary rubble turned into a fast-moving torrent early Monday when a powerful rainstorm passed through the area.

    Much of the logs comprising the jam entered the river from a nearby creek, the site a devastating forest fire in 2000 that left dead trees and debris strewn throughout the area.

    The scenic, 100-mile stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River contains about 100 rapids through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. About 10,000 people float the Middle Fork each year; with about 150 people launching each day during the season.

    The Forest Service estimated the cost to remove the logjam between $10,000 and $20,000.

    Bob Volpert, an outfitter with Idaho River Journeys, told the Idaho Statesman that the removal of the logjam was worth the public cost. He said that Middle Fork river trip outfitters gross more than $10 million annually.

    River rafting is the largest segment of the Idaho outfitting industry.

    Businesses that include rafting, hunting, fishing and winter activities contribute about $50 million to Idaho's economy, according to Grant Simonds of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted July 27, 2006

    Mayflies by the foot

    The smallmouth bass that reside in Pennsylvania's Allegheny River have enjoyed their fill of mayflies in recent weeks.

    But the larger-than-average seasonal hatch has left residents of some river towns with piles of dead, winged creatures on their rooftops and roadways.

    A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the mayfly hatch on the upper Mississippi River, where the bugs were so thick they showed up on weather radar.

    Swarms of hatching mayflies forced authorities in Kittanning, Pa., to close the
    Allegheny River Bridge to vehicular traffic Monday night, the second time in two weeks the bridge was shut down by a mayfly invasion.

    "We shut the bridge down before we had any accidents," Kittanning Fire Chief Gene Stephens told the Leader-Times newspaper. "Earlier this month, we had three motorcyclists go down as a result of the mayflies."

    Stephens said the earlier mayfly invasion left the bridge and nearby buildings covered in nearly a foot of mayflies.

    A hat tip to the Moldy Chum weblog for the story link. FORUM | MAILBAG

    Study: Hunting increases bear cub survival rate

    A recently completed Canadian study indicates black-bear hunting may significantly increase the survival rate of cubs.

    The new research by the University of Alberta contradicts the common assertion that hunting creates higher cub mortality rates when adult male bears are pressured from their regular range by hunters and subsequently kill cubs they have not sired.

    The study, in which 290 bears were monitored over a four-year period, concluded that cubs had a 25 percent better chance of survival in an area where black bear hunting is allowed than in a neighboring region where it is not.

    "In the hunted population, we had much higher cub survival and higher productivity of females," said Sophie Czetwertynski, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta.

    The research found that 83 percent of bear cubs survived in the hunted area, while the comparable figure in the non-hunted area was 66 percent. In addition, females in the hunted area began reproducing earlier.

    Bear hunting is a hot button issue in several Canadian provinces.

    Spring bear hunting has been banned in Ontario since the late 1990s, and Alberta recently implemented a three-year ban on the spring grizzly hunt in part due to pressure by environmental groups. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted July 26, 2006

    What gives in Canada?

    Remember the story blogged here in May about the American hunter who bagged a grizzly/polar bear cross in Canada's Northwest Territories?

    DNA testing confirmed that the odd looking bruin taken by Idahoan Jim Martell indeed had the genetic attributes of both bear species, the first time such a cross-breeding had been confirmed in the wild.

    Now, a rancher from northern Quebec (what is it about Canada, eh?) is claiming one of his mares recently gave birth to a horse/moose cross.

    Francois Larocque asserts there were no stallions in the area that could have bred the mare, only Canada moose residing in a nearby preserve.

    Those who have seen the animal say it has a head resembling a moose and extremely long legs.

    But Gilles Landry, a biologist with the Quebec Parks and Wildlife Department isn't so sure.

    "I have serious doubts because there has never been a birth from a moose and a horse reported, even though some have mated," Landry said in the newspaper La Presse. "It's more likely that it's a deformed animal."

    So what is it, a hoose or a morse?

    Stay tuned for the DNA tests.


    Etiquette on the water, take 2

    Just last week I blogged about how competition for space on the water can sometimes lead to conflicts and confrontations.

    Between boaters, rafters, tubers, kayakers, and all genres of anglers, sometimes there's just not enough water for everyone.

    Such was evidently the case last week in Colorado, when a woman in a river raft was hooked in the lip, apparently on purpose.

    According to the Associated Press, authorities in Gunnison said that witnesses believe a disgruntled fly fisherman deliberately threw his fly toward the passengers taking part in a commercial rafting trip on the Taylor River in southwestern Colorado last week.

    The angler was not found.

    The injured woman, whose name was not released, received a pierced lip.

    While lip (and other body part) piercing may be all the rage these days, we've yet to see a kid sporting a woolly bugger with a marabou tail on his lip or eyebrow.


    posted July 25, 2006

    Lucky to be alive

    A sport angler is lucky to be alive after he was impaled by a leaping, 800-pound blue marlin and knocked overboard during a fishing competition off the coast of Bermuda.

    Ian Card, 32, is in stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery for a fist-sized chest wound when a hooked marlin struck him with its bill just below the collarbone.

    Card and his father, Alan, who operate of a charter fishing boat out of Somerset, Bermuda, had just hooked the fish Saturday during Sea Horse Anglers' Club Bill Fish Tournament when the incident occurred.

    "The fish was airborne going across the full width of the boat and my son was standing up about eight feet from the stern," the elder Card told The Royal Gazette newspaper. "It impaled him with its bill, a bill of about two-and-a-half or three feet long. All in one motion the fish flew across the cockpit and took him out of the boat. He landed about 15 feet away. The fish was on top of him. He was underwater and he had his arms wrapped round the fish and the fish was pushing him under."

    The Royal Gazette reported that Dr. Peter Watson, a North Carolina physician who was taking part in the tournament, provided emergency care to the victim during the 40-minute boat trip to the nearest medical facility.

    Tournament organizer Dan Jacobs said the Cards are among the world's most experienced marlin fishermen and were the first to hook a marlin in excess of 1,000 pounds in Bermuda's waters.

    "Fish have jumped into boats before and people have been hurt dealing with marlin, but it's very unusual for a fish to leap completely out of the water from behind the boat and come right across the boat," Jacobs said. "Ian is very lucky to be alive."


    Biker broadsides bruin

    A Denver woman taking part in the Boulder Peak Triathlon on Sunday encountered an unexpected road hazard during the cycling portion of the competition — a black bear.

    Sabrina Oei was speeding downhill at nearly 40 mph when she broadsided a bruin and went flying over the bike's handlebars.

    Oei (pronounced "OU'-eee," like the sound she made when she hit the pavement), cracked her helmet and received a bit of roadrash from her encounter, but managed to get back on her bike and complete the race.

    "It was just unbelievable," a recovering Oei told AP reporter Chase Squires Monday. "In that moment you think, 'I'm going to hit this bear.'"

    The bear, a bit surprised by the run in with Oei and her bike, high-tailed it into the woods.

    "A race official came by, he spun the front wheel, tested the brakes and said, 'This bike is great, you can finish the race.' So I said, 'I guess I'll finish the race,'" Oei said.


    posted July 24, 2006

    Potential $25,000 fish caught, released

    Somebody should tell Fred Revils, Jr. that he should become a regular ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound reader. After all, if Fred had read this blog on July 10, maybe he wouldn't have released the tagged bass he caught during a tournament on Louisiana's Red River last week, because he would have known about the Early Times Fish Challenge taking place on that fishery, with one tag number worth $25,000 to a lucky angler.

    Unfortunately, though, Fred didn't know that Red River was one of 13 waterways in the country where 50 tagged fish were placed as part of the distillery's fishing promotion, which ends July 31.

    According to Shreveport Times outdoor writer Jimmy Watson, Revils and his partner, Steve Gorum, released the fish after weigh in at the Media Bass Tournament, despite the fact that it was tagged with a numbered plastic tube.

    Another angler in the same tournament (and obviously a News Hound blog regular) caught a tagged fish and knew what it was. Aaron Johnson removed the tag prior to releasing his catch, and later registered his number on the contest Web site.

    Watson writes that Johnson's catch makes four Red River anglers with registered tagged bass. All bass registered from each participating lake will be eligible to receive $1,000 in a drawing.

    In addition, one pre-selected tag number from each lake is worth a potential $25,000.

    See? It pays to read the News Hound!


    Not ready to become a bear's lunch

    A Canadian outdoorsman used a 6-inch hunting knife to kill a black bear that attacked him while he was portaging a canoe in remote northern Ontario last week.

    Tom Tilley said his American Staffordshire dog Sam growled a warning, then defended his master as the bear surprised them on a trail north of Wawa, Ont.

    The 55-year-old's hometown newspaper, the Waterloo Regional Record, reported that while Sam battled the bruin, Tilley jumped on its back and began stabbing it.

    "Love is a very powerful emotion and my thought right away was: 'You're not going to kill my dog,'" Tilley told the paper.

    Tilley was four days into a 12-day wilderness canoe trip when the attack occurred. He said he heard Sam growl and noticed the bear closing in on him. As the bear came closer, it cut off his escape route.

    "That's when I knew I had a serious problem … I was lunch," he said.

    After the ordeal, Tilley met two Americans who used a satellite phone to call for help. Man and dog were later airlifted out for medical attention.

    Both are recovering.


    posted July 21, 2006

    Gila trout reclassification announced

    This week's announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the downlisting of the Gila trout from endangered to threatened brings with it the exciting possibility that many avid anglers may have the opportunity within their lifetime to fish for a species unique to a handful of streams in a relatively tiny portion of the world.

    The fish was first declared endangered in 1966 under the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act, and came under the protection of the act when it was passed in 1973. It was first classified as a species in 1950.

    The Gila trout recovery program has taken place in specific cold-water streams in southwestern New Mexico and east-central Arizona, where the fish is native.

    Through the recovery efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Arizona Game and Fish Department and New Mexico State University, Gila trout numbers have increased from four populations at the time of listing to 12 populations today.

    The announcement, while exciting for all anglers and conservationists, was personally gratifying, as well.

    Between newspaper gigs back in 1979 and 1980, I worked as a wilderness patrolman for the Gila National Forest. I helped pack cement and building materials on mules to McKnight Creek, where we constructed dams and holding areas in the Gila Wilderness for the early portion of the Gila trout recovery program.

    Upon completion of the impoundments, fingerling trout were also carried in on the backs of mules, using large, metal, bulk milk cans (remember them?) balanced in the pack panniers.

    An article in the Las Cruces Sun-News this week quotes outdoor writer and good
    friend M. H. "Dutch" Salmon, who is now a sitting member of the New Mexico Game Commission.

    "(Fishing for Gila trout) will be a tourism draw for certain types of flyfishermen who want to catch a species that hasn't been legal for fishing in 40 years," Salmon said. "I would like to hike in there and catch one myself."

    Me, too, Dutch. But, if it's all the same to you, let's ride in on horseback, OK? FORUM | MAILBAG

    Agencies win big with big-game tag lotteries

    Considering the big payoffs two Western game and fish agencies realized by implementing new big-game tag lotteries this year, don't be surprised to see other states follow suit.

    Several weeks ago we blogged about Arizona's first-ever Big Game Super Raffle, in which residents and out-of-staters could purchase chances to hunt one of the state's nine big-game species … for an entire calendar year.

    Last week, in a partylike atmosphere before an invitation-only crowd, raffle officials in Phoenix drew the no-restriction permits and notified the recipients via speakerphone.

    Officials had hoped at least $500,000 would be raised from the initial raffle, which featured special hunting permits for antelope, bear, buffalo, Coues whitetail deer, desert bighorn sheep, elk, turkey, javelina and mule deer.

    The final tally in the Grand Canyon State: $515,000.

    Also this week, three hunters were drawn in Montana's first SuperTag Lottery, winning coveted bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose tags.

    A total of $205,995 was raised through ticket sales. Of special note is that each of the Montana tag winners purchased only one ticket.

    Proceeds from the Montana SuperTag Lottery will be used for public hunter access and law enforcement. Arizona's proceeds will be earmarked for specific species enhancement, incremental to the amount raised by ticket sales for each tag.


    posted July 20, 2006

    We'll leave the (bathroom) light on for you

    "You know, Harold, there's something you don't see every day."

    "What's that, Edna?"

    "A guy carrying a six-foot alligator in to a room at the Motel 6."

    Authorities in Phoenix were summoned to a midtown motel yesterday after someone observed a man take a large alligator in to a room.

    When the police arrived, they found an alligator in the tub … as well as an assortment of snakes, tortoises, spiders and an opossum in the room.

    But no human guest was immediately located.

    When the owner of the menagerie returned to the room, he provided police with permits for all the critters.

    The Arizona Republic reports today it was not clear whether hotel management was aware of the man's companions when he checked in.

    But, hey, what happens in Phoenix stays in Phoenix, right? FORUM | MAILBAG

    Bear makes fatal boo-boo

    While the image of a fun-loving, wise-cracking cartoon bear and his little sidekick may come to mind when you hear the story, Grand Teton National Park officials were not amused when a black bear crawled onto a picnic table last week while park visitors were dining.

    The bear's actions prompted park officials to trap the 5-year-old, 178-pound bear. It was put down yesterday.

    The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports today the bruin was one of two black bears that were receiving "food rewards" from visitors in recent weeks.

    Authorities are attempting to trap a 3-year-old female with a radio collar that disappeared after rangers captured its accomplice Tuesday night.

    "A fed bear is a dead bear" — a common mantra among wildlife biologists — certainly is applicable in this situation.

    "There have been numerous food violations in recent weeks," said Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs.

    "People have been negligent about leaving food and coolers unattended. The responsibility is on the campers and picnickers to abide by the proper food-storage regulations." FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted July 19, 2006

    Emergency 911: mule deer down

    What do you get when you mix too much reality TV, a general unfamiliarity with the outdoors and its critters, and two EMT wanna-bes?

    You get a couple of guys who try to perform CPR on a deer that is seconds away from becoming, uh, roadkill, that's what.

    Cory Wicks of the Wallowa County Chieftain writes that sheriff's detective Neil Rogers recently responded to a report of a deer that had been hit by a vehicle in downtown Joseph, a small eastern Oregon hamlet. When Rogers arrived, the badly injured deer was being pulled from beneath a trailer.

    After parking his car and returning to the scene, the detective said he was surprised to see two men attempting to revive the nearly expired animal by utilizing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a lifesaving technique usually reserved for humans.

    "One guy was giving compressions and the other guy was giving it mouth-to-mouth," Rogers told the local paper.

    "I couldn't really look over there because I was starting to laugh too hard. It had to be one of the funniest things I've seen in law enforcement."

    Rogers later put the injured animal down by shooting it.

    The law enforcement officer speculated that the two men probably hailed from an urban area quite different from the mountains and expanses of rural Wallowa County.

    "Probably from Portland or somewhere," he surmised. FORUM | MAILBAG

    Carping about nothing

    Very rarely do I write anything about those publicity hounds that claim to be animal-rights activists — the group known as PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

    I try to restrain myself from writing about the organization's increasingly insipid campaigns, meant more to generate ink than to instill any true compassion for animals.

    That said, here's a PETA story I ran across out of southwestern Illinois this week that should infuriate anyone with an ounce of common sense, and especially the dedicated men and women of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

    It seems that state biologists there recently used electroshocking to stun and remove hundreds of game fish from Edwardsville's Leclaire Lake in preparation for a dredging operation intended to boost the health and vitality of the historic fishery. The bass, bluegill, crappie and sunfish were taken to a nearby lake before the draining of Leclaire.

    When the draining process was complete, it seems some 20 carp remained in assorted puddles of water, and they soon became an olfactory nuisance and were removed by city workers.

    The Belleville News-Democrat reports this week that PETA, in true bottom-feeding compassion (gotta stick together, right?) has petitioned the Illinois state's attorney to criminally investigate the process that led to a few carp heading to the landfill.

    A PETA spokesperson claims that allowing the carp to die was a violation of the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act, which states, "No person or owner may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork or otherwise abuse any animal."

    OK, four more words and I'll stop.

    Get a life, please. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted July 18, 2006

    Famous Catskill fishing lodge destroyed by fire

    Fire raced through the upper three floors of the 19th century Antrim Lodge in Roscoe, N.Y., yesterday morning, destroying the landmark and meeting spot for anglers near so-called Junction Pool, at the confluence of the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc rivers.

    The lodge, known by anglers throughout the northeastern United States, was undergoing renovation at the time of the fire. According to news reports, the building was damaged by flooding just weeks earlier.

    It was inside the Antrim's famous barroom where the legend of the "two-headed trout" was born, no doubt during a particularly memorable evening of angler revelry.

    It is said the trout, called the Beamoc, couldn't decide whether to swim toward the Beaverkill or the Willowemoc, fueling the debate over which was the better trout stream.

    For decades, the Antrim hosted the Two-Headed Trout Dinner on the weekend prior to each year's April 1 trout opener.

    In "The Beaverkill: The History of a River and Its People," Ed Van Putt writes:

    The bar, with the mounted trout lining the adjoining walls, became known as Keener's Pool (after the Keener family that owned the lodge). This is understandable as it was a famous watering hole for anglers who often stood three and four deep waiting for a drink to take away the river's chill. At the bar, stories were told of fish caught and lost, and big trout tended to increase in size in proportion to the number of drinks consumed. And it was part of local lore that some of the biggest trout ever taken from the Beaverkill came out of Keener's Pool.

    Thanks to The MidCurrent blog for the link. FORUM | MAILBAG

    On the water, a little etiquette goes a long way

    I don't know about you, but these days I don't spend as much time on large, public impoundments and heavily fished rivers and streams as I once did.

    I make a concerted effort to seek out places with fewer anglers, even if it means having to work harder to get there — and, yes, even if fishing isn't the best.

    The reason?

    I guess I'm turning into a crusty, old angling curmudgeon who doesn't have much of a tolerance level for all the jerks who seem to be on the water today.

    Sean Breslin writes in the Missoulian that July in Montana means there's a lot of competition for space on the state's famous waterways.

    Between kayakers, wading anglers, rafters and tubing enthusiasts, there's a lot of potential for conflicts, as well as river abuse in the form of littering.

    Breslin quotes a local angler who says he avoids certain Montana streams this time of year because of what he refers to as "the tube hatch."

    The bottom line: A little etiquette on the water can go a long way.

    Like me, I'm certain my ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound readers have lived through some less-than-delightful experiences while trying to fish public water.

    Combat fishing? Not for me these days, unless it's in a reciprocal state for my concealed carry license. (OK, I'm kidding.)

    Have you ever had an especially bad experience at the hands of an idiot angler or boater? Have you nearly come to blows with someone who decides to fish exactly where you are? Ever wanted to fling a full-sized Zara Spook at an obnoxious jet skier?

    Share your experience in the News Hound Mailbag.

    Oh, and try to be nice out there, OK?

    Tiny trout lands angler $10K

    In the 10-year history of the Kiwanis Special Olympics Trout Fishing Derby fund-raising event held at Wishon Reservoir in Fresno, Calif., no angler had ever landed a tagged, grand-prize trout worth $10,000.

    Until this weekend, that is.

    And the luck of an angler such as Dennis Wilt is precisely why fishing-contest organizers like the Fresno Kiwanis purchase insurance policies to cover the rare occurrence.

    When Wilt pulled his rather unremarkable 9-inch trout out of the water Saturday morning, he didn't think much of it, even though it was tagged.

    In fact, he didn't find out he held the prize-winning fish until he submitted it nearly seven hours after the fact.

    "I guess I'm one of those lucky guys who got the fish to open its mouth at the right time," Wilt told Fresno Bee outdoor writer Marek Warszawski.

    A random pre-event drawing of numbers determined the value of each of the 301 tagged trout. In addition to the $10,000 grand-prize fish, 300 others were worth $25, $50 and $100 apiece. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted July 17, 2006

    Privy-hopping woman eludes attacking wolf

    An Alaska woman found protection inside a pair of conveniently placed privies after a wolf attacked her last week.

    Becky Wanamaker, a 25-year-old schoolteacher, is recovering from multiple bites she received when a wolf chased her down as she walked along the Dalton Highway near Fairbanks.

    Wanamaker told the Fairbanks News-Miner that after the initial attack she made a beeline for a nearby outhouse, flung open the door and locked herself in.

    "Once I got into the outhouse and saw the wounds weren't bleeding profusely, I was able to calm down," said Wanamaker. "It hurt, but it wasn't anything excruciating. I just praised God I was OK."

    Later, when she looked outside and could not see the wolf, Wanamaker said she ran to another outhouse closer to a camping area.

    "I made it into the second outhouse and screamed to wake up the people camping," she said. "I told them I got bit by a wolf."

    Judging from her description of the animal, state wildlife biologist Mark McNay has little doubt it was a wolf that attacked Wanamaker.

    "They're rare, but they're not unheard of," McNay said of wolf attacks on humans.

    Wanamaker suffered a gash on the inside of her right thigh and three punctures on the back of her right thigh. Her left leg had two punctures, one behind her knee and another on the outside of the knee. FORUM | MAILBAG

    Buoyed bathrooms? Just barge in

    While we're on the subject of outhouses, the next time nature calls Virginia's lake and offshore anglers and boaters, the state department of health would prefer they stop using buckets or other methods in favor of a more refined practice — moored commodes.

    Concern for water contamination resulting from improper waste disposal has the state considering the installation of floating offshore potties, similar to some already in use in California and other Western states.

    The Virginian-Pilot reports today that Anne Smith, a consultant with the Virginia Department of Health's Marina Program, said proposed bobbing bathrooms would be bolted to a barge and secured for stability.

    Smith said that while larger boats often have restrooms, or heads, operators of small boats and personal watercraft users could use the floating restroom.

    Kind of a loo in lieu of a loo, so to speak.

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    About the author: J.R. Absher shares his perspective while blogging about hunting, fishing, shooting sports, sportsmen's issues and the occasional offbeat outdoor tale. In more than 30 years of writing and a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer, mule wrangler, wilderness packer, magazine editor, political consultant, hunting-equipment copywriter, public-relations director and sportsman's advocate. You may contact him at jrabsher@psci.net.

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