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No Nuts
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No Nuts

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No Nuts

Iím sick of the markets. If you want some erudite comments on the latest eco crap or some deep thoughts on when the EU will tank, go elsewhere today. I've got nothing erudite to say. So something different this A.M.

I live about an hour north of NYC. Not far from one of the big reservoirs. There is a lot of protected watershed property. Much more woods than people. I have all sorts of critters around. Itís not unusual for me to see a half-dozen deer on the lawn in the morning. There are flocks of wild turkeys. There are dozens of both black and white squirrels. Chipmunks everywhere. All these animals are dying.

Iíve been aware of something going on for about a month. This is not the first time that a mass death of animals has happened. Some years ago we had a rabies epidemic. It quickly moved from one animal group to another. It damn near wiped out the raccoons, skunks and possums. As the kill of these animals progressed varmints came in to clean up the dead. In just a few years the coyote population exploded. But nature had its way (as it always does). As they coyotes ate the diseased carrion they too became sick and died. The cycle ended when the animals all died.

For a year or so it was safe to put garbage out at night because the coons and skunks were gone. When the small animals died the big ones who ate them moved on. The coyotes left and folks started letting the cat out at night again.

The coyotes are back this year. Iíve heard them at night as they form packs to kill weak animals. They howl a horrible noise to scare their prey into confusion and fear. This time itís different. Different animal groups are affected. Itís not rabies thatís the problem. The animals at risk donít eat meat.

I didnít think much of this until I happened to have a conversation with the fellow from Ecuador who was cleaning up my leaves. He says to me:

"No frutos secos esta anos."

I walked away thinking to myself, ďNo nuts?Ē

It took me a bit, but I finally got it. There are almost no acorns this year. No big healthy ones at all. The ones that you might find are the size of a pea. They contain no food, theyíre just husks. And that's why the animals are stressed and the coyotes are back.

If you Google, ďMissing acornsĒ you will see that there are chat rooms from garden types who have made note of the acorn issue. It seems to be contained in the North East this year (there is no actual data.) While looking around on the topic I found this interesting (and a bit eerie) article from 2008 in the Washington Post.

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The same thing happened around the D.C. area 3 years ago. From the article:

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. "We're talking zero. Not a single acorn. It's really bizarre."

A naturalist in Maryland found no acorns on an Audubon nature walk there. Ditto for Fairfax, Falls Church, Charles County, even as far away as Pennsylvania. There are no acorns falling from the majestic oaks in Arlington National Cemetery.

Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. This year, experts said, many animals will starve.

Some of the scientists made light of the 2008 development:

"What's there to worry about?" said Alan Whittemire, a botanist at the U.S. Arboretum. "If you're a squirrel, it's a big worry. But it's no problem for the oak tree.Ē

Sure enough the next year acorns came back to Virginia. But obviously three years later the same thing is happening in a different region. Back in 08 the thinking was ďWhy worryĒ. But the thinking was also, ďIf this happens again we have something to worry about

"But if this were to continue another two, three, four years, you might have to ask yourself what's going on, whether it is an indication of something bigger."

Well, itís happened again. We shall if there is anything to this. I suspect this might get broader attention in the media. Itís too weird not to get noticed. Anyone else missing their acorns this year?

Now you can go back to the stupid markets.


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