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Deer may be forced to wander CT in search of food, after spring freeze causes fall acorn shortage

Deer roaming the yards in Simsbury, Connecticut July 26, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Deer roaming the yards in Simsbury, Connecticut July 26, 2022.

Connecticut agricultural crops were devastated by a freeze on May 18. Now it appears the state’s acorn crop was also negatively impacted, which could be bad news for dozens of animal species that depend on acorns as a key food source in the fall.

The majority of the state is experiencing an acorn crop failure, said J.P. Barsky, a forest researcher for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, which conducts the annual acorn survey.

“The May frost may have impacted pollination rates for oak flowers,” Barsky said.

Additionally, Barsky said oak trees might still be under stress from a spongy moth defoliation the previous two years.

The acorn crop failure in the majority of the state will negatively impact the more than 80 wildlife species that depend on acorns for food in the fall.

“Without a consistent source of acorns, deer may wander in search of alternative food sources resulting in increased potential for collisions with vehicles,” Barsky said.

But there is a silver lining to all the rain Connecticut has received in the last few months. The southeast corner of the state, comprising Middlesex County and lower New London County, actually had a good acorn crop this year. Barsky said the oaks across the state have been able “to set their buds for next year” and build up their energy resources.

“So keep our fingers crossed for next year,” Barsky said.

Jennifer Ahrens is a producer for Morning Edition. She spent 20+ years producing TV shows for CNN and ESPN. She joined Connecticut Public Media because it lets her report on her two passions, nature and animals.