For 10 days this August,a fresh-faced 41-year-old named Jeffrey Traill trolled Hollywood in his Honda, videotaping pigeons. Pigeons lined the ArcLight theaters near the Walk of Fame, commandeered the roof at Big Lots!, perched along power lines like stolid chess pieces. “Pigeons,” Traill says in his video, shakily framing one roost. “Pigeons,” he says again, wrenching his camera toward another. The effect is nauseating. “Over there,” he says. “Over there. Over there.”
Traill is one of a half-dozen neighborhood activists whose volunteer campaign against these birds has escalated idiosyncratically for more than a year. Their leader, Laura Dodson, had ordered him out on yet another round of surveillance, to update the group’s hulking pigeon “dossier.” “We’re kind of an unusual neighborhood association,” Dodson told me.
Dodson has lived in Hollywood for 29 years. She likes pigeons and does not want them killed or made to suffer. She said this repeatedly in the clipped, mildly truculent way she says a lot of things. But having helped muscle gangs and drugs out of her neighborhood in the 80’s, Dodson says she feels besieged again. She and her group, the Argyle Civic Association, have turned to a series of unconventional approaches to neutralize a problem they simply refuse to put up with. “We’re in the middle of the biggest boom, and there are pigeons everywhere — like where they’re going to put the W hotel,” she says, invoking, as she often does, the upscale hotel as a symbol of Hollywood’s hard-won renaissance. “There’s nothing but pigeon poop.”
A pigeon dispenses about 25 pounds of excrement a year. Often this gunk must be blasted off hard-to-reach places using boom lifts and steam hoses. Pigeon-related damage in America has been estimated to cost $1.1 billion a year. But the full scope of our disdain and distrust for the birds is impossible to quantify; it’s hard even to explain. Marketing by the bird-control industry — a lucrative offshoot of the $6.7-billion-a-year pest-control business — reminds us that pigeons and their dung can spread more than 60 diseases. This is true, but not necessarily panic-inducing, given the exceedingly rare incidences of respiratory infections like cryptococcosis.
For much of the 20th century, controlling pigeons primarily meant killing them. (Culling remains a common fallback position; the United States Department of Agriculture kills 60,000 pigeons a year in response to complaints.) But even the trade journal Pest Control now warns that with “millions of bird lovers out there,” you must consider “the publicity you would receive if your local paper runs photos of hundreds of poisoned pigeons flopping around on Main Street.” As we have become less tolerant of the birds, we have also, somehow, grown more concerned about their well-being.
The bird-control industry has evolved to fill this paradoxical niche. Pigeon control has increasingly become about moving pigeons elsewhere. With a staggering catalog of spikes, nets, sticky gels, coiled-wire barriers, ultrasonic noisemakers, holographic frighteners, fake owls and even electrified strips — from Bird-Shock Flex-Track to Bird Jolt FlatTrack — bird controllers have been busily transforming our bare ledges into unwelcoming obstacle courses. Often, according to Bob Van Gelder, who for 25 years has been president of the full-service pigeon-proofing company Birds Away/Pigeons Away, you must “follow the problem” — destabilizing pigeons’ existing roosts and anticipating their next move. “Birds have instinct,” he says. “We have logic.”
Of course, these displaced pigeons inevitably turn up somewhere else. The Argyle Civic Association sought a more holistic, area-wide fix — as well as a humane one. So in May of this year, after consulting with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the group voted unanimously to implement a novel strategy pioneered by the Pigeon Control Advisory Service, or PiCAS, in Britain.
Essentially, the PiCAS model complements the widespread pigeon-proofing of buildings — this aimless shifting of pigeons from facade to facade — by situating large birdhouses, called dovecotes, in places like city parks. Displaced pigeons relocate inside. As the pigeons breed, volunteers and workers reach into the dovecotes and remove their eggs, replacing them with dummy eggs to stave off rebreeding. It’s a mechanical form of birth control that, PiCAS claims, can reduce total pigeon populations by half over four years.
As all kinds of wildlife rebound and infiltrate the cities from which we exiled them, PiCAS’s approach is among a number of humane and ecologically savvy efforts on the forefront of urban animal control. Elsewhere, the U.S.D.A. is working to orally vaccinate skunks and raccoons against rabies and to use chemical contraceptives to treat nuisance animals like deer, prairie dogs and Canada geese. As we learn to recognize each city as an ecosystem, we may be more willing to sustainably control these problematic populations as a wildlife manager might, rather than eradicating them or shooing them around as exterminators do.
Dovecotes have been erected in a handful of British towns, and when I first spoke to the director of PiCAS, Guy Merchant, in May, he told me that Melbourne, Australia, was finalizing an ambitious scheme in its financial district. Melbourne, Merchant said, agreed to take every recommendation in the 30-page report that he produced after an initial visit. (He offers free consulting outside Britain.) Since the number of pigeons is a function of the availability of food, Merchant ordered a public-relations campaign discouraging pigeon feeding and suggested the appointment of a municipal “pigeon warden” — a caseworker to persuade the most “deliberate and persistent” pigeon feeders to feed only around the dovecote. While in Melbourne, Merchant persuaded one elderly gentleman to do just this, once the dovecote was erected. Merchant deemed this “a major coup,” since the man, notorious for meting out about 90 pounds of seed every day, was probably supporting 3,000 pigeons all by himself.
But just as PiCAS’s dovecotes essentially domesticate pigeons, they also appear to bring these well-meaning pigeon lovers — often the lonely seniors we presume them to be — back into the fold as well. Around the dovecote, their eccentric hobbies is legitimized. “That feeder then becomes the Pied Piper of Hamelin,” Merchant told me. “He or she brings the pigeons with him. It’s one of those rare things in life — a win-win situation.”
I pictured an elegant, almost St. Francis-like pastoral. It wasn’t until I arrived in Hollywood that I began to wonder if this, or any harmonizing of avian instincts and human logic, could withstand one unfortunate fact: we have logic, but we do things every day to defy it.
The pigeons among us are feral — free-roaming descendants of once-domesticated birds. The pigeon was the first bird species domesticated by man, more than 5,000 years ago, in fact. Millions were raised across medieval England and France, either as messengers or meals, in dovecotes similar to the ones PiCAS employs. In the late 18th century, the French aristocracy’s pigeons, which were free to fly into the fields, were infuriating the peasantry, looting grain reserves and pecking at crops. The farmers weren’t permitted to kill them, and this incessant, aerial tyranny has been cited as one cause of the French Revolution. Once in power, the revolutionaries made a point of destroying the dovecotes, spilling the stocks into the wild — meaning that ever since, generations of these exiled nobles have fanned out to muck up the hoods of our cars.
Modern Americans have been similarly shortsighted. Pigeons were one of the few species left unprotected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. They were often killed with shotguns. After World War II, poisons emerged as discrete alternatives. Many, like the Rid-a-Bird Perch, which poisoned pigeons through their feet, were phased out as the environmental movement grew. Avitrol, which is typically mixed with corn or other grain, is the last remaining poison in commercial use.
Killing pigeons doesn’t actually accomplish much, however. In 1961, Basel, Switzerland, began rapaciously culling its population of 20,000 pigeons. Its trappers and marksmen depleted some flocks by 80 percent, only to watch them return, sometimes in greater numbers, within weeks. This went on, like a demoralizing carnival game, for 25 years. The city finally stood down, having killed 100,000 pigeons. There were still 20,000 pigeons in Basel.
Then, in 1988, the biologist Daniel Haag-Wackernagel established 13 lofts (essentially, rooftop dovecotes) around Basel and began replacing eggs. Within four and a half years, Basel Pigeon Action, as he called his program, reduced the city’s pigeon population to 10,000. He has subsequently become one of the world’s few experts on feral pigeons. Guy Merchant, the director of PiCAS, claims to have devised his organization’s strategy before Haag-Wackernagel’s work began and stresses that the two are not affiliated. Nonetheless, when PiCAS claims that the dovecote scheme is “scientifically proven” to halve pigeon populations, it is citing Haag-Wackernagel’s peer-reviewed 1995 study, “Regulation of the Street Pigeon in Basel” — and, notably, his study alone.
The futility of killing pigeons is a far better established fact. An emptied niche in any ecosystem will rapidly be filled, either by immigrants or newborns. And pigeons are not only opportunistic, keeping a keen lay of the land, but also prolific breeders. This is partly our fault. Millennia of domestication selected for more fecund pigeons long before these natural cliff-dwellers settled into the architectural canyons of the modern city. As the value of food cheapened after World War II, pigeons urbanized along with us, no longer having to commute to forage in surrounding fields. The city, with its abundance of safe and sheltered breeding locations, now also offered an abundance of food. “Whenever you couple that,” says Louis Lefebvre, a biologist at McGill University who has studied pigeons in Montreal, “you’ll get an explosion.”
Moreover, when someone feeds pigeons in the park every day at noon, the birds are able to organize their day around that appointment. There, pecking 145 times a minute, a pigeon can rapidly eat its fill for the day, about one ounce. Cobbling that sustenance together from trash might require thousands of pecks at numerous locations, many of them far apart. Haag-Wackernagel speculates that the resulting free time and excess energy allows pigeons to breed more rapidly and successfully. Feral pigeons lay eggs six times a year, producing as many as 12 squabs in that time.
“In a city like New York or like Melbourne,” Merchant argues, “the pigeon population is sustained solely by little old ladies and little old men that go out every single day and feed top-quality foods to the birds.” This isn’t the average office worker, flinging the last crumbs of lunch. Like the man in Melbourne, these feeders maintain a purposeful regimen. Lefebvre calls them “marginal city dwellers whose interests in life do not extend beyond feeding pigeons.” He describes, with disarming empathy, people who “wait outside the backdoors of restaurants for day-old bread and patiently soften all the bread and break it into little pieces and then hand it out to the pigeons.”
Without much effort, I began finding stories of such feeders in Michigan, Washington, New York, California — all eerily similar, as if they were proprietors in the same franchise. In Marin County, one was distributing organic polenta with pine nuts. In San Francisco, I met a white-haired Scottish widow who not only fed pigeons but also retrieved dead ones off the streets, wrapped them in plastic and buried them in trash cans.
Attempts to fine feeders have proved unpopular. (Shortly after Merchant left Melbourne, a local paper criticized the city for threatening an 87-year-old woman with a fine of nearly $8,000.) Feeders tend to believe the pigeons depend on them. Thus, PETA, in a pamphlet promoting PiCAS, recommends that the public-relations campaign accompanying any dovecote plan should “focus on the fact that a reduction in available food will not result in starvation for large numbers of pigeons.” Though such events are impossible to predict exactly, basic ecology suggests that pigeons, forced to expend more energy foraging, will disperse and slow their breeding.
“At the end of the day, pigeons are there because we’re filthy, dirty creatures,” Merchant told me. “They’re there because we’re stupid creatures who go on feeding them.” They are the heroes of a great co-evolutionary success story. One ornithologist has crowned them “superdoves.” The less deferential way of saying this is, we’ve taken an otherwise unobjectionable bird and built the perfect pest.
As our car idled beside the CBS studios in Hollywood, Laura Dodson pointed at birdseed spilled across several feet of sidewalk. “You can tell by the red stuff on top, the reddish glow,” she said. “That means it was poured this morning.” The pigeons, Dodson has noticed, eat the red bits first.
Dodson and Jeffrey Traill, two of the Argyle Civic Association’s most indefatigable pigeon combatants, had picked me up just before 7 a.m. to tour what they referred to as “the affected area.” Here, a woman named Susie Kourinian — they called her Bird Lady — had been routinely emptying entire 25-pound bags of birdseed from the rear door of her black S.U.V. “She’s like a stealth bomber,” Traill said.
Traill drove us to a squalid traffic triangle near the Capitol Records Building — the first place they noticed Bird Lady’s regular feeding — and then to a subway stop near Hollywood and Vine, where, they said, they often found hundreds of birds on power lines in the morning, waiting for food and spattering parked cars. At our next stop, a grocery store, anti-roosting spikes lined every light post and tier of the facade. But in a corner of the parking lot, pigeons indifferently pecked at a mound of fresh seed.
Pigeon feeding is illegal in Los Angeles in only a precisely delineated section of downtown around Pershing Square; it has been illegal there, and nowhere else in the city, for as long as anyone can remember, and for no immediately apparent reason. Attempts by the City Council to reason with Bird Lady, including at least one visit by a staff member to Kourinian’s place of business, have failed, and the Argyle Civic Association initially began lobbying to expand the law. To document the extent of the problem, they devoted most of April to ramshackle reconnaissance. Dodson says that their patrols began as early as 3 in the morning. They kept detailed logs of all sightings and videotaped Bird Lady in action; in stills, she pours a robust stream of seed from her waist like a cement mixer. They compiled “witness statements” from neighbors who had quarreled with her. Dodson, for her part, avoided any skirmishes. “Once we started this investigation,” she said, “my mouth’s been shut.”
Gradually, they built up an almost ethnographic understanding of Bird Lady’s routine, mapping 13 “known locations” where she fed. One day, Dodson says, she followed Bird Lady behind the Ricardo Montalban Theater, retrieved 45 empty birdseed bags from the Dumpster, then fanned them across her patio for a neighbor to photograph. Based on this evidence, the group approximated Kourinian’s annual outlay at 112 tons of seed and, using a scholarly article on pigeon metabolism (someone found it online), estimated that she sustained about 6,700 birds. This intelligence was compiled in what Dodson, handing me my own cumbersome copy, called “Bird Book.”
Susie Kourinian, aka Bird Lady, would not be interviewed for this article. She is from Armenia and works as a seamstress. (She is pictured in the March 2005 issue of Vanity Fair, pinning up Cate Blanchett’s gown.) Kourinian told The L.A. Weekly that after feeding Hollywood’s pigeons for 10 years, she had begun sleeping in her shop, afraid that Dodson and company would follow her and find out where she lived. (In truth, they already knew.)
Other local news organizations picked up the story, and this publicity, coupled with the Argyle Civic Association’s unrelenting street presence, had, it seemed, begun intimidating Kourinian, upsetting her routine and forcing her to move elsewhere, just as spikes and shock-tracks displace the pigeons. Seed was still turning up on sidewalks by the time Dodson, Traill and I rumbled around Hollywood in late June, but no one had seen Kourinian’s S.U.V. for some time. The existence of multiple Bird Ladies now seemed almost certain. “I’ve wasted so much gas watching her, it’s ridiculous,” Traill told me. “I think she just felt uncomfortable with me watching her like a hawk.”
At the traffic triangle, we had found only a lone, purple-headed pigeon, drinking from a leaky water pipe near a jacaranda tree. Sitting in Dodson’s dining room after our outing, I mentioned that the situation looked to be under control or at least to be shifting elsewhere. “She’ll just be back if we take the pressure off,” she shot back. Besides, Dodson had begun to fear that if Bird Lady were forced to stop feeding pigeons altogether, they would be unable to find enough food on their own. “They’d fall out of the sky,” she said. Having already refused options like Avitrol and trapping, the Argyle group was sworn to humaneness. Changing the law to make pigeon feeding illegal throughout the city was no longer a priority.
The group’s PiCAS phase, too, turned out to be short-lived. Even before I first arrived in Los Angeles, Dodson had another conversation with her contact at PETA, a wildlife biologist named Stephanie Boyles. Boyles told her about a pigeon contraceptive-feed called OvoControl working its way through the E.P.A.’s approval process. Dodson’s rank and file was relieved: replacing eggs sounded like a lot of work. “It was a hands-on thing,” Dodson said, “and we didn’t want to do hands-on.” And so, a month after voting in favor of PiCAS, the Argyle Civic Association voted unanimously to scrap that plan and wait to put pigeons on the pill.
Chemical pigeon contraceptives were first experimented with 40 years ago. Efforts to dose a flock of free-roaming birds inevitably require overcoming several ecological and logistical obstacles. In this case, how do you ensure that each pigeon eats the required five grams of OvoControl every day, for many months? And if other protected bird species eat any OvoControl, how do you ensure that they won’t be harmed? Many biologists, including Haag-Wackernagel, argue that it has been difficult to even gauge the success of contraceptives in the wild, since treated and control flocks can’t be isolated meticulously enough to be counted.
OvoControl’s manufacturer, Innolytics, contends that these issues are being resolved; in fact, its active ingredient appears to have shown much real-world promise in several multiyear Italian studies. Most appealing to Dodson’s group, the company says that OvoControl can succeed in Hollywood regardless of whether feeders cooperate. Innolytics might even hijack Kourinian’s flocks — setting automatic rooftop feeders to dispense OvoControl 15 minutes before she arrives in a given spot, reaching the pigeons with their small, contraceptive “snack” before she satiates them. Boyles, for one, says that if a program does eventually go forward, Kourinian could be persuaded to feed pigeons OvoControl instead of seed. “We can channel that energy, that desire she has to be productive,” Boyles told me cheerfully.
Guy Merchant was not as sanguine when I called to fill him in. He said he distrusted all chemical contraceptives and seemed incensed that Boyles had suggested it. “Stephanie Boyles and the staff of PETA haven’t a clue where PiCAS is coming from,” he said. He had just had a similar falling out with Melbourne, severing all ties after accusing the city of being “unprofessional” and willfully ignoring his instructions. (A Melbourne spokeswoman says, “He seemed upset about something, but we can’t figure out exactly what.”) OvoControl looks like an easy fix, Merchant said, but in his experience: “All of the good ideas don’t work. All of the things that would be great if they were true, aren’t.”
Pigeons, he seemed convinced, will frustrate whatever elaborate technologies we mobilize to suppress them. But PiCAS seemed to me to rely, every step of the way, on the perfunctory compliance of people. It is difficult to judge which, finally, is more exasperating.
In his paper “Regulation of the Street Pigeon in Basel,” Daniel Haag-Wackernagel writes that as the city’s 20,000 otherwise intractable birds were reduced to 10,000 by his methods, the flocks inside the lofts also decreased by half — from 1,400 pigeons to 708. Immediately after reading this, I was confused: if he had been removing the eggs of only 1,400 pigeons, what accounted for the depletion of the other 18,600 birds in Basel?
“This is the giant misunderstanding,” Haag-Wackernagel told me in his thick Swiss-German accent when I reached him at home. I had missed the point of his paper altogether. This amused him. Apparently it happens a lot.
The dovecotes were irrelevant, he said. The Basel Pigeon Action worked exclusively via “a change of public opinions” — a euphemism, it seemed, for an almost belligerent offensive against pigeon feeders. Just as PiCAS advises, Haag-Wackernagel flooded Basel with posters and advertisements characterizing pigeon feeding as “cruelty to animals” since it leads to overpopulation and overcrowding. For emphasis, he included noxious photos of squabs infected with parasites.
Citizens began ratting out feeders, sending Haag-Wackernagel names and the locations where they were regularly found. People began accosting feeders on the street, shaming them. “Although we certainly did not condone extreme action,” he writes, “in one case a pigeon feeder was even physically attacked.” One elderly man, perhaps finding no safe place left to feed pigeons outside, began luring them in through his apartment window. He was evicted.
The Basel Pigeon Action emerges as a case study in logic — purely ecological logic — taken to its extreme. Basel so thoroughly conceived of the city as an ecosystem that it treated humans like animals. And as feeders stopped flooding the system with food, Basel’s pigeon population waned. Of course, Basel’s game wardens were also offing thousands of pigeons to speed along this otherwise gradual process.
The lofts, he said, were showpieces — a ploy. By maintaining a few healthy flocks at the city’s expense, Haag-Wackernagel said he hoped that even the most steadfast “pigeon friends” would be convinced that Basel cared about pigeons and would trust him enough to stop feeding. Initially, feeders were allowed to feed these resident pigeons in designated areas, but Haag-Wackernagel said he quickly came to believe that “the idea of feeding only in certain places will never work.” Other pigeons swooped in, ate and flapped off to breed elsewhere.
Haag-Wackernagel told me he didn’t know much about PiCAS but had followed an unaffiliated consortium of cities employing dovecote schemes in Germany. These programs also cite his paper, he said, but he doubted that they are successful. He argued that they have misread his paper in precisely the way I had, or at least optimistically misappropriated it.
“If we could start again,” he told me, “if I was ordered to solve the pigeon problem in New York City for example, I wouldn’t use the pigeon lofts at all.” Not wanting to go back on Haag-Wackernagel’s word or evict the birds he raised there, Basel is still strapped with tending to them every week. In hindsight, Haag-Wackernagel says that any feeders reasonable enough to appreciate the gesture would probably have been reached by the logical appeals of the P.R. campaign alone.
“Most of the pigeon feeders are in some way crazy,” he said, summarizing, rather informally, a psychological study he helped write on the subject. “It is impossible to influence these people.” The most relentless have no family and few interpersonal relationships. They adopt pigeons as surrogate children. He described women — older women — who worked as phone-sex operators and prostitutes to pay for birdseed. This may be the pigeon’s greatest co-evolutionary triumph: the black magic whereby these grubbing little birds have sought out their depredated, human counterparts and transformed them into senseless disciples.
“They are like martyrs,” Haag-Wackernagel said. Ultimately, he conceded, his Basel Pigeon Action succeeded because, during those four years, “many pigeon feeders died.” They were old, and with the city so thoroughly re-educated, no younger people filled their emptied niche. There is a certain ecological elegance to this idea, too.
The great Pershing Square Pigeon War began in Los Angeles in February 1923. “I am a bird lover,” declared Milbank Johnson of the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company. “But as the city has grown from a village to a great metropolitan city,” he continued, rarefied businesses like his couldn’t keep scouring droppings from their facades and dislodging pigeon carcasses from their gutters. Pershing Square’s brand-new Biltmore Hotel — the largest hotel west of Chicago — was budgeting $500 a month for such drudgery.
Legislators banned pigeon feeding in Pershing Square park, writing the law that Dodson once hoped to universalize. But even the mayor scoffed at outlawing this “perfectly natural and harmless act,” arguing that it wouldn’t solve anything. “Every day,” a reporter wrote in The Los Angeles Times, “the city became more and more ridiculous to be thus thwarted by a lot of pigeons.” Finally, the city called in a “noted pigeon trapper of the High Sierras” to transfer the birds to the outlying hills near where, that very summer, tremendous white letters were being raised to spell “Hollywoodland.”
As cities like Los Angeles continued to sprawl, and hinterlands like “Hollywoodland” grew into hubs like Hollywood, countless animal species have been driven farther and farther out. We are now perhaps more starkly estranged from wildlife than any other humans in history, and we have come to mistake those animals’ absence from our daily lives as the natural order — an entitlement, even. Pigeons not only weathered that upheaval; they also managed to thrive in it. They are the holdouts, the spoilers. We resent them for this, and we want them to go away. Our finickiness is their last, great predator.
Scientists in the relatively new field of urban wildlife biology often talk about a species’ “cultural carrying capacity.” This is to say that, along with the amount of food and habitat available, many animals live and die by just how willing we are to put up with them. But the idea of cultural carrying capacity encompasses another equally un-Darwinian force that interferes with nature’s mechanisms: our compassion.
It’s our queasiness about harming pigeons that gave rise to the bird-control industry’s spikes, nets and shock-tracks — the shuffling of pigeons from one paying customer to the next. Our compassion for our own species, meanwhile, generally keeps us from tormenting those who, for whatever pitiable reasons, compulsively feed the pigeons — and who are, by feeding, extending what they can’t help seeing as the most basic form of compassion. Ultimately, it’s this niche that pigeons exploit: the rift opened between these virtuous ideals. We all mean well, and it’s easy to get tripped up in that same vertiginous territory while searching for a resolution.
A few days after I left Hollywood, Laura Dodson spotted Bird Lady’s truck and — feeling, spontaneously, that the time was right for reconciliation — pulled over. Kourinian told Dodson that she was catching a plane. Things in Hollywood had become miserable for her. She was going to Armenia for a few weeks, to think and be with family. “I said, ‘If you’re going to Armenia, what are you going to do about your birds?”’ Dodson told me, relaying all this. “She said, ‘I’m walking away from my birds, and I don’t care.”’
Dodson said she felt terrible. She tried to apologize. “I actually cried with her,” she said. The Hollywood Pigeon Action had, albeit unwittingly, attacked the problem at its human source. From a certain vantage point, this may have been its payoff. All Dodson had to do was patiently wait on OvoControl’s E.P.A. approval. And she has. But after devoting so much time to rustling up humane solutions, she was, above all else, concerned about the fate of the birds. She appealed to Kourinian again. But, Dodson explained, “she said: ‘I don’t care. My life is all broken up.”’
Dodson knew what she had to do. She conferred with Stephanie Boyles at PETA. Given the extent of Kourinian’s feeding, Boyles hesitantly agreed, advising Dodson “to err on the side of compassion.” And so Dodson called Jeffrey Traill. Together, they drove to a Wal-Mart some distance away. They bought a modest two-week supply, about 20 or 30 bags.
“We got the seed,” Dodson told me. “We started putting it out.”
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