Finland, Sweden and Norway to cull wolf population

Finland is joining Sweden and Norway in culling wolves this winter to control their population, as conservation groups appeal to the European Union to take action against the slaughter.

Hunters in Sweden have already shot dead most of their annual target of 27 wolves, while Finland is to authorise the killing of 20 wolves in its first “population management cull” for seven years.

Norway will kill about 60% of its wolves this winter – 51 animals – to maintain a maximum of just three breeding pairs in the country, with its population including animals living between Sweden and Norway limited to four to six breeding pairs.

Conservationists accuse Nordic nations of creating the most hostile environment for wolves in western Europe and flouting EU laws that protect the species, which has made a comeback in recent years but remains endangered in many countries.

“Its a horrific situation,” said Siri Martinsen, chief executive of Noah, an animal rights group that is challenging Norway’s wolf hunts in its courts. “Norway’s wolf management is out of control and they are just shooting wolves because some people don’t like them. It is outrageous to hold a species at a critically endangered level.”

In Norway, 5% of the country is designated a wolf protection zone, where the protection of wolves is a priority. Despite this, 25 wolves will be killed inside the protection zone this winter, unless the court action by Noah, together with WWF Norway and Association Our Predators, is successful.

Wolves found outside the protection zone are not allowed to breed and are killed if a regional committee decides they “may pose a threat” to livestock or semi-domesticated reindeer.

While Norway is not a member of the EU, wildlife groups say its wolf cull violates the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats.

Christian Anton Smedshaug, state secretary to Norway’s minister of climate and environment, said: “Keeping the Norwegian wolf population at this level is a political compromise reached by a majority in parliament in 2016 in order to keep both wolves and livestock production in Norway and bridge different societal views in Norway.

“The primary concern for managing large carnivores in Norway is to maintain livestock grazing, with as few losses as possible. Furthermore, husbandry also contributes to common goods like cultural landscapes and biological diversity.

“Wolves prey on game animals, and the presence of wolves may consequently affect hunting locally. Wolves may also pose a threat to dogs used for small and big game hunting. Reducing effects on hunting is, however, not a main objective behind the population target or a main focus in the management of large carnivores.”

In Sweden, wildlife groups say the 395 population estimate for 2020-21 could have fallen below 300 by that winter’s end.

“Sweden has promised the EU we should not go below 300 – that’s the bare minimum,” said Magnus Orrebrant, chair of the NGO Svenska Rovdjursföreningen. “We have informed the EU that 300 is way too low. We have habitat that could house more than 1,000 wolves.”

“The common denominator in Norway, Sweden and Finland is the strong hunting organisations which make the politicians worried,” added Orrebrant. “There are no farms near some of the packs they are hunting this winter. The wolves have not created any problems whatsoever but it’s an important place to hunt moose and hunters want a large moose population.”

Hunters also object to wolves because they kill much-prized hunting dogs, widely used in Nordic nations to track game and deer.

Finland’s wolf population of 300 is the highest for a century, according to Sami Niemi, a ministry of agriculture and forestry official tasked with wolf management.

Modelling by Natural Resources Institute Finland says that a genetically healthy wolf population should be more than 500.

“The long-term goal is to reach the genetic viability of the wolf population,” said Niemi. “When we set down the goal for the management hunt, we took into consideration we weren’t aiming for a population reduction. The goal for the management hunt is to increase the tolerance to the wolf population especially among people who share their environment with wolves.”

Of the argument a wolf cull reassures anxious rural communities that wolf populations are under control, and thereby reduces illegal killing, Sami Säynevirta of Luonto-Liitto, a Finnish wildlife charity, said: “This argument has been made for many years but we still have the problem of poaching. The authorities should really act to prevent it.

“There needs to be a change of attitude towards wildlife. It’s important to talk about the benefits of the wolf – they play a key role in a healthy ecosystem but news about wolves is pretty much concentrated on the negative side.”

Prof Fiona Matthews, founding chair of Mammal Conservation Europe, said: “It seems extraordinary that countries are blatantly doing things that are illegal under the EU habitats directive. You’d think these countries would be able to live with their predators particularly given their low population densities. It seems to be driven by hunting interests and the argument that wolves are a danger to hunting dogs.”

Wildlife groups in Finland and Sweden have appealed to the European Commission and the European court of justice to declare the wolf culls illegal but both national governments maintain that derogations from the habitats directive allow for legal culls.

In Norway, Martinsen called on other European countries “to intervene and file complaints with the Bern Convention so we can stop this situation where Norway is leading the way to tolerating an extinction policy and making these conventions not worth the paper they are written on”.

This article by Patrick Barkham was first published by The Guardian on 15 January 2022. Lead Image: The European grey wolf has made a comeback in recent years but remains endangered in many countries. Photograph: blickwinkel/Alamy.

What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.


Country diary: A gang of linnets, a burst of snipe – these meadows are full of life

The old Lammas meadows are bustling with life, the brambles along the chalk stream rowdy with communal chit-chat. Somewhere in the scrub, a parcel of linnets is unfolding. Earlier in the afternoon they rose from the alders, perhaps a couple of hundred birds, and danced as one over the sedges. Now, the little finches are settling down to roost, filling the bushes with their non-stop twittering. Unseen, but definitely not unheard.

I sludge through the boggy top meadow to the mud by the stream. Up ahead, the flame-licked willow tops resound with the noisy tidings of magpies. Most afternoons they congregate here in a pre-roost assembly, up to 30 birds jostling and trading places before diving into the safety of the wet scrub for the night.

A sudden eruption from one of the shallow pools catches my attention. A wisp of snipe rises up. I can just make out four birds zigzagging away, melting into meadow. A few seconds later, they vanish back into the rushes. These are the first snipe I’ve seen here since last February, and their brief emergence is a burst of winter joy.

Whistling wings overhead. Looking up, I realise I’m under the flight path of several mallards. They come in dribs and drabs: three, five, then a couple of pairs, flying in haphazard formation, quacking loud and low. Wheeling round in the failing light, each squadron ducks under the overhanging willows and splashes down in the disused watercress beds. No longer airborne, the raucous sord (from the Middle English sorde meaning to soar up in flight) transforms into a silent paddling of mallards.


RSPB calls for emergency shooting ban during bird flu outbreak

The RSPB has called for an emergency shooting ban after an “unprecedented” outbreak of bird flu that has left wildfowl populations in “catastrophic decline”.

Migratory geese that overwinter on the Solway Firth, which stretches between Scotland and Cumbria, are being hardest hit, with a 38% decline in the Svalbard barnacle goose breeding population from winter last year.

While these are protected species and not subject to hunting, experts argue that pressure from wildfowlers on nearby, legal quarry species can have an impact. Shoots nearby can cause stress, scaring the birds into the air where they use up vital energy.

Some estimates suggest the UK is facing the worst outbreak of avian influenza on record. Latest population counts of the Svalbard breeding population show a drop in numbers from 43,703 in November last year to 27,133 in this month’s counts.

Paul Walton, the head of habitats and species at RSPB Scotland, said: “We are in the grip of an unprecedented outbreak and unfortunately the Solway seems to be the epicentre of this in the UK. Our birds are suffering and they need an urgent reprieve to help them get through this winter and ensure that as many as possible of those remaining survive to make their migration back home to Scandinavia to breed in the summer.

“The best way we can do this is by reducing the cumulative impacts of disturbance, including by wildfowling. Our teams on the ground are seeing many birds that are sick or dying and under significant stress. Anything that can be done to limit activities which incur additional disturbance at this time should be implemented with urgency. This action could help these populations during this period of catastrophic decline caused by the outbreak.”

There are allowances under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for a temporary pause in the hunting of wildfowl if there are prolonged periods of freezing weather. The RSPB is asking for this consideration in the event of a severe avian influenza outbreak.

It has also asked the public to keep dogs under close control in the Solway coastal area to avoid further disturbing the birds.

After the barnacle goose gained protection in the 1950s, following a long campaign by conservationists, the world population rose from just a few hundred individuals to about 40,000. But the recent sharp decline has made experts concerned the good work could be undone.

Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry bird flu. Many bird populations, from chickens to swans, have been hit by the flu, which is deadly.

An avian influenza prevention zone came into force across Great Britain on 3 November, meaning birdkeepers must keep their flock separate from wild birds and put strict biosecurity measures in place.

Anyone who finds dead birds is advised not to handle them and to report the bodies to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Hippo talk: study sheds light on purpose of call and response

A call from a stranger may elicit myriad responses – panic, confusion, maybe even excitement – but it turns out that hippos have a rather more corporeal reaction: they spray dung.

Researchers studying hippopotamuses in Mozambique have revealed that the creatures not only react to the vocalisations of other hippos, but that the calls act as an identity signal. In other words, they allow hippos to tell the difference between a familiar individual and a stranger.

“Hippos are quite talkative. They have a repertoire of different calls: wheeze honks, grunts, bellows, squeals,” said Prof Nicolas Mathevon, of the University of Saint-Etienne in France, a co-author of the study. “However, the function of these calls has not been studied experimentally. Our study is the first to test experimentally the function of a hippo call.”

Writing in the journal Current Biology, Mathevon and colleagues report how they studied the loud “wheeze honk” calls of hippos – a sound not unlike a growling laugh.

The team recorded calls from individual hippos within groups – or pods – living in the same or different lakes in the Maputo special reserve.

Five pods were then played back calls from an individual in their own group, a neighbouring group at the same lake, and a distant group of hippos that were strangers to them, while two pods were played calls from their own group and a distant group.

The team found that hippos responded to the calls by calling back, approaching the sound or by spraying dung. The latter, however, was more common when the call was from a stranger than from a hippo of the same or neighbouring group.

“When we played back familiar calls … the reaction was not aggressive. Basically, they just called back,” Mathevon told the Guardian.

The team add that the hippos’ responses were stronger for calls from individuals that were less familiar.

“Our experiments suggest that in hippos, the arrival of a stranger individual is perceived as more threatening than that of a neighbour,” the team write.

While Mathevon said it was not a surprise that hippos use vocalisations to communicate – noting they are an excellent way to send information – he said the results show that hippo groups are territorial.

The team add that their experiments show wheeze honks can travel more than 1km (0.6 miles), suggesting hippos would be familiar with the calls of others living on the same lake.

“The most interesting thing to come out of this study is that hippos may have a fine-grained knowledge of the voices of all the individuals around them, and that this knowledge can help them navigate in their social network,” said Mathevon.

The team said the findings could have implications for conservation, particularly when it comes to relocating individuals.

“It may be possible to get the local hippos used to the voice of the new ones before they arrive and vice versa,” said Mathevon. “Of course, we are not saying that this measure will be sufficient to suppress all aggression, since other sensory signals are certainly also involved, but it may help.”


‘Poorly conceived’ trophy hunting bill puts wildlife at risk, UK government told

A proposed UK ban on trophy hunting imports risks undermining the conservation of rhinos, elephants and other endangered wildlife, according to a group of leading scientists and conservationists who said African perspectives have been ignored by the government.

On Friday, MPs will vote on a private member’s bill to ban trophy hunting imports while, separately, the government is preparing legislation to ban hunting trophies from thousands of species, including lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and polar bears.

In an open letter seen by the Guardian and signed by more than 100 scientists, conservationists and African community leaders, the group said the ban is poorly conceived and threatens to reverse conservation gains and undermine the livelihoods of rural communities across sub-Saharan African.

It urged the UK government to implement a smart ban that incentivises good practice by prohibiting trophies from “canned” hunting operations, where captive-bred animals are shot at close range, or those that fail to share revenues with local communities.

By allowing trophy hunting to continue within the UK, where hunters can pay thousands of pounds to shoot deer, the group said the government was opening itself up to accusations of hypocrisy by banning imports from countries with impressive conservation records such as Namibia and Botswana, where trophy hunting is used to fund conservation.

“We understand (and many of us share) the public’s instinctive dislike of trophy hunting. However, the reality is that no alternative land use has yet been developed which equally protects the wildlife and habitats found in these vital landscapes while also generating valuable revenues for local communities. Indeed, where trophy hunting has been subjected to bans, wildlife has often suffered, and conflict with communities has increased,” the letter states.

“This is not to claim that trophy hunting is perfect. It is beset with a variety of problems, including but not limited to the inequitable sharing of hunting revenues, inappropriate or poorly observed quotas, corruption and inadequate regulation. But tourism is not a perfect industry either,” it continues.

Signatories include the heads of leading conservation NGOs such as Save the Rhino International, academics from the University of Oxford and African community leaders.

The IUCN, which oversees the red list of endangered species, established that trophy hunting has supported the conservation of several species, including rhinos, African elephants and markhors, the national animal of Pakistan, and a UN report said that trophy hunting is helping to protect millions of acres of wildlife habitat in sub-Saharan Africa. Community leaders have previously criticised British celebrities for calling for a ban on trophy hunting, naming Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Piers Morgan in July 2020.

Supporters of the trophy hunting import ban argue it will help protect endangered species and end a cruel practice. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has called trophy hunting a “disgusting trade” and his father, Stanley, has campaigned in favour of the ban.

But Leslé Jansen, CEO of the NGO Resource Africa, who signed the letter, said the legislation will harm conservation and African livelihoods and undermine the rights of rural communities to use their natural resources.

Supporters of the ban say it will help protect endangered species as well as ending a cruel practice. Photograph: Johnny Armstead/Alamy
Supporters of the ban say it will help protect endangered species as well as ending a cruel practice. Photograph: Johnny Armstead/Alamy

“We have voiced these concerns many times, and have attempted to engage in the process. Why are Africans’ rights, views and conservation successes continually ignored?” she said.

Dr Rodgers Lubilo, chairman of a community leaders network covering Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, called on the government to reconsider the proposed legislation.

“We have time and again told our international friends that trophy hunting is part of local rural livelihoods, and we will continue to pursue sustainable use of wildlife for generations to come,” he said.

Dr Amy Dickman, a professor of conservation at Oxford University who signed the letter, said: “We shouldn’t base policy on what comedians and celebrities think. We should be basing it on expertise and on local opinion. Those are the two things that count the most.

“Ricky Gervais has 14 million followers on Twitter, whereas the African Community Leaders Network, when they post about this, tend to get zero engagement. The people most affected have the smallest platforms,” she said.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We are bringing forward ambitious legislation to ban the import of hunting trophies from thousands of species.

“This will be one of the toughest bans in the world, and goes beyond our manifesto commitment, meaning we will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation.”

This article by Patrick Greenfield was first published by The Guardian on 13 January 2022. Lead Image: In countries such as Botswana, trophy hunting is used to fund conservation. Photograph: Lori Ellis/Alamy

What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.


Mid-Winter Bowland.

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On a beautiful sunny if cold day on Thursday, the purpose of a trawl around Marshaw – Tower Lodge – Trough Bridge, was to give me some mental and physical well-being, this clip certainly contributed to that….but not a bag full of birds. In fact in the 4 hours I was there, a count totaled a pretty depressing 9 species….yes NINE! 

OK, so this is upland birding in January, but c’mon, 9 species being a classic example of recording what you don’t see, being as important as those you do.

My list was, 4 Mallard, with not a Dipper in sight on the Marshaw Wyre, 2 Red Grouse, 8 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Dunnock, 6 Blackbird, a Robin, Kestrel, and a Pheasant. Well if that’s not depressing….I give in!

But with a couple of hours decent daylight left, I gave Hawthornthwaite a look in, brief by usual standards. The brilliant sunlight on the fell did me a favour, when I spotted a pair of Stonechat on the top of a ridge, I found a pair here on my last visit on 11 November. Also seen, 6 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, and a Snipe, on take-off with it’s ‘muffled sneeze’ soon dropped to ground again.

Stonechat 20 January. Pete Woodruff.

When I came back down, a male Stonechat was silhouetted against the light on the wall opposite and soon disappeared. But the day that had offered me few birds, soon turned positive when a Barn Owl came on the scene to give me several minutes of pleasure when it hunted the lower moor of Hawthornthwaite, before making a dive opposite me on the other side of the road.

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Barn Owl. 

The Barn Owl is recorded as a scarce resident breeder in our area, with no breeding reports in The Birds of Lancaster & District 2019 

Ten pairs of Barn Owls nested successfully in monitored boxes in Bowland in 2020. The East Lanc’s Ornithological Club received 136 records, with confirmed breeding at 17 sites. Sightings from 8 locations in the LDBWS recording area were publishedLancashire Bird Report 2020 

I don’t recall ever seeing a Barn Owl in Bowland, so an excellent first for me. I’ve obviously been going to all the wrong places in Bowland all these years, but Thursdays bird put an end to that, and gave me another Grand Finale.

The header image of the PFG at Cockersand, in the same field I saw them in on 14 January, is to show my appreciation to Ian Mitchell for sending it to me.       


Why Are Mice Attracted To Your Basement in Milwaukee?

Mice Removal Milwaukee


If you’ve ever had a mouse infestation, you may have been surprised to discover more mouse activity in your basement than in other spaces of the home. Mice are often attracted to spots that have food available, such as the kitchen, or areas that are closed off to the rest of the property, such as the attic. In addition to these places, many homeowners also find evidence of a mouse infestation in their basement. When you have a problem with rodents, the team at Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control can help with expert mice removal wildlife control in Milwaukee. Here are some reasons why they love the basement.

Lots of Great Hiding Spots

The basement is usually the place in the home where people store items, such as holiday decorations, sports equipment, old clothes, toys, and paperwork. Even if your basement is well-organized, the fact that it tends to accumulate so much stuff and can sometimes be cluttered makes it a perfect spot for mice to live. Piles of stuff create lots of great hiding spots for mice to take shelter.

One way to make your basement less inviting is to regularly clean up the clutter and get rid of anything you really don’t need anymore. Aim to remove as much as you can so your space is more open and organized and less enticing for curious mice.

Dark and Cool

The next reason mice head to the basement first in many homes is because it’s dark and cool. Basements are usually not part of the regular living space in a home, especially if the area is unfinished. The temperature downstairs in the basement is usually a degree or two cooler. The space is also typically not well lit throughout the day, giving mice a nice, quiet spot to hide. If there is a water source, mice will also be attracted to that.

To keep mice from setting up shop downstairs, you may want to consider finishing the space and making it brighter. Some homeowners turn a portion of their basement into a rec or game room or add another bedroom.

Less Foot Traffic

Basements are also ideal for mice because there can be less foot traffic. Depending on the layout of your home, you may spend very little time down in the basement. Mice can take advantage of this, thinking they have this space to themselves. If you are worried about the potential for mice to take over your basement, consider letting the cat spend time downstairs if you have one, or make it a point to spend more time in your basement to avoid a rodent problem.

Choose Us for Mice Removal Wildlife Control in Milwaukee

Ignoring a mouse problem in your basement can be a costly mistake. If mice are left alone to do whatever they want in your basement, they may damage your insulation, get into stored items, chew up wires, and cause serious problems to your walls and foundation. The urine and droppings they leave everywhere can also carry disease and possibly cause some health issues to residents inside. The best course of action is to get a professional wildlife expert to inspect your home and provide removal.

Mice are clever creatures, so it’s never smart to try to catch them yourselves if you have an infestation. Instead, let us take care of your mouse problem and give you back your basement to enjoy. Waiting to see if the problem goes away may make it much worse and lead to more damage to your home.

Find out more about our techniques to remove mice from your home. The crew at Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control can come up with solutions to a mouse infestation in your home.


Okanagan Wildlife Control: 3 Reasons Squirrels Lay Flat

Squirrel Removal Okanagan


Squirrels are one of many types of animals that may seek shelter in your home and require wildlife control in Okanagan to remove. They are energetic creatures whose behaviour is difficult for humans to understand. For example, you may come across a squirrel lying flat on its stomach on the ground, a tree branch, or an outdoor railing. Sometimes the squirrel will quickly assume this position at your approach. Also known as “splooting,” this is normal behaviour for squirrels and does not indicate that they are unhealthy. There are several different reasons why they do it.

1. Resting

When you find a squirrel lying flat on a tree branch or other raised area, it may look like it is taking a nap. Chances are, that is exactly what it is doing. Tree squirrels spend a great deal of their time elevated high above the ground. This allows them to find food and offers them some protection from predators. Nevertheless, it does pose a danger of falling out of the tree. Squirrels are very nimble when awake, and if they do fall, they are usually able to catch themselves before hitting the ground. However, if they were to fall out of a tree while asleep, they would be susceptible to injury just as any other animal would. Pressing their bodies flat against the branch helps to decrease the chances of the squirrels falling out of the tree while they sleep.

2. Heat Dumping

If you see a squirrel lying flat against a surface on a hot day, it may be trying to cool off by using heat dumping. Compared to the fur on the outer body, a squirrel’s fur is much thinner on its belly. There are also blood vessels here that are close to the surface of the skin. When a squirrel gets too hot, it may lie on a surface that is cooler than the surrounding air. This may be a shaded rock or a patch of pavement, a tree limb, or the ground. By stretching itself out so it lies flat, it exposes as much of its body surface to the cooler material as possible. According to the laws of thermodynamics, heat transfers from the blood as it passes through the superficial blood vessels to the cooler surface until the two reach a mean temperature. As a result, the surface becomes warmer and the squirrel’s body becomes cooler, which is why this process is known as heat dumping.

3. Defending Themselves

Squirrels are very small creatures that have little in the way of defences, especially against predators that are much larger than they are. They have claws and teeth with which to bite and scratch, but while these defences may be effective against another squirrel, they are unlikely to do much to deter a bobcat or a coyote. However, that’s not to say that squirrels are completely defenceless. Because of their coloration, they can blend in fairly well against the bark of a tree, so much so that a hungry predator might not notice them. Therefore, squirrels may lie flat against a tree branch to improve their camouflage by hiding their underbellies, which are often lighter coloured than the fur on their backs.

If the squirrel does get attacked, lying flat on their stomachs and presenting their backs to their enemies helps to protect their vital organs. These would be more vulnerable to injury if the predator got a hold of a squirrel by its belly. A squirrel may still not have much chance if a predator comes after them, but the ability to protect its vital organs helps to increase its chance of survival.

Humane Wildlife Control in Okanagan From Skedaddle

Our squirrel removal methods involve the safe removal of animals allowing them to immediately return back to their natural environment, then cleaning where they have been, and preventing them from coming back. Find out more about how we can help you cope with a wildlife situation in the Okanagan Valley.


Great Crested Grebe

Has anyone seen a Great Crested Grebe on the river between Winterbrook and the 4-Arches railway bridge recently?

There has been up to 4 pairs breeding on that stretch over the last few years but there was only one record of one individual last year as far as we can ascertain.

What is the cause of their absence? Possibly pollution with Thames Water dumping sewage in to the Thames or the increase in activity on the river. i.e. Wild Swimming, Paddle Boarding, increases in other river traffic or speeding traffic, Dogs, Mink etc.

Just putting it out there, any thoughts?

Note: Speed limit on the Thames is 5mph and boats have to be registered and Jet skis are not allowed on the river upstream of the Thames barrier.



Hen Harrier – Beeley Moor

 It’s always a treat to see a Hen Harrier hunting over the moor but to watch an adult male is extra special. I picked it up over Beeley this morning heading towards Harewood Moor, it was quickly lost to sight but as I walked towards the moor I could see it in the distance sat in the grass. 

After about 5 mins it took flight, following the moor down towards Holymoorside where I finally lost it. As usual the views were fairly brief but still a real treat.

The last male I saw on Beeley was November 2020 so they are a very scarce bird locally.

Hen Harrier – adult male

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