Collecting Nuts for Wildlife

Many of the patients at the Wildlife Center, including fawns, squirrels, and especially our very hungry Black Bears, depend on acorns and other “hard mast” as important fall and winter food. The WIldlife Center gratefully accepts the help of our neighbors and friends each year during the fall months to gather and donate this important food source.

The Center accepts cleaned acorns, chestnuts, and hickory nuts. Local Virginia nuts only please, in order to minimize disease transmission and keep nuts properly stored.

Please help us by removing twigs, leaves, and other debris and placing the nuts in brown paper bags. Deliver these nuts to the Center quickly after collection to ensure they stay in good condition and can be used. Nuts quickly deteriorate, mold, and rot if collected and left in buckets/bags where they get wet or hot. 

Depending on volume donated, the Center may request nut collectors to take additional preparation steps (outlined below) to help us with long-term storage. 

Want to help feed the bears, but don’t have access to nuts?  You can make a donation to the Wildlife Center and specify “Go Nuts!” as the specific purpose of your gift.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I contribute horse chestnuts?

A: The Center can accept donations of chestnuts to feed to the cubs.  However, the Center cannot use horse chestnuts, as these are toxic.

Chestnuts graphic

Not sure what you’ve got?  Both horse chestnuts and edible chestnuts produce brown nuts.  Edible chestnuts always have a tassel or point on the nut; the toxic horse chestnut is rounded and smooth with no point or tassel.

Q: Can I contribute buckeyes?

A: Thanks, but no. Buckeyes, too, are toxic to some of our wildlife.

Q: What about black walnuts?

A: We can only use cleaned and husked walnuts. If you are willing to clean and husk, we will accept these nuts! Otherwise, unhusked walnuts are not consumed by patients and they go to waste at the Center.

Q: Can I mail nuts to you?

A: Because we’d like fresh local nuts, or prepared and frozen local nuts, please plan on dropping off your nut donation at the Center. If you’re too far to drop off, please consider making a donation directly to the website instead of spending money on postage! This will ensure we can purchase the specific supplies we need. See the information above about donating nuts.

Please drop off donated nuts at the front door of the Center, any day of the week from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Ideally, please plan on packing nut donations in brown paper bags, or in containers that can be left at the Center. Questions? Email us at wildlife@wildlifecenter.org.

 

Nuts Preparation

Below, you'll find steps on how to prepare a variety of nuts in Virginia.

Acorns: We will take cleaned, bagged, quality acorns. To prepare:

  1. Collect acorns and separate from twigs, leaves, and other debris.
  2. Cover them in a container of water for five minutes. Throw away the ones that float.
  3. Remove acorns from water and dry with a towel, or allow to air dry.
  4. When fully dry, place acorns in a one-gallon Ziploc-type baggie and freeze. Keep frozen until you can deliver them to the Wildlife Center.

NOTE: Acorn quality quickly deteriorates, molds and rots if collected and left in buckets/bags where they get wet or hot.

Black Walnuts: We can take husked walnuts only.

  1. Collect black walnuts.
  2. Soak nuts in container of water for up to one week until the green or brown husk loosens and can be removed by hand.
  3. An alternative method is to fill a wheelbarrow full of walnuts with water. Let soak, and every few days, jiggle the wheelbarrow back and forth to agitate the husks off. Use multiple changes of water.
  4. Spread the husked nuts on a flat surface and allow them to fully dry in sun for a few days. Then deliver to the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

NOTE: Black Walnuts do not need to be frozen prior to delivery.

Hickories: We’ll take clean hickory nuts.

  1. Collect hickories and separate from twigs, leaves, and other debris.
  2. Deliver to the Wildlife Center.

NOTE: Hickory quality quickly deteriorates, molds and rots if collected and left in buckets/bags where they get wet or hot. Hickories do not need to be frozen prior to delivery.

Thanks for your help!