Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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NJ: Bald Eagle recovery reaches milestone with more than 100 nests in New Jersey

TRENTON – The dramatic recovery of the American bald eagle has
reached a milestone in New Jersey, with more than 100 pairs now
nesting in the Garden State, according to a newly released analysis
of the species’ population.

The survey by the DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program
counted 102 pairs of actively nesting eagles, plus 11 more pairs in
the process of establishing nesting territories. The survey
documented a record 22 new nests, of which 16 are in southern New
Jersey, four in northern New Jersey and two in central New
Jersey.

“The recovery of the bald eagle from one nesting pair in an
isolated swamp in southern New Jersey in the early 1980s to more
than 100 pairs today is a truly remarkable success story that is a
testament to the excellent work that has been done to manage the
species, and to how far we’ve come as a state in restoring and
protecting our environment,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

The species’ recovery from the edge of extirpation is directly
related to a ban on the use of DDT, a once widely-used pesticide
that caused egg failure, as well as decades of restoration and
management efforts by the DEP, which released 60 eaglets from
Canada into New Jersey in the 1980s and early 1990s to rebuild the
population.

Each January, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program
conducts a mid-winter survey as part of a nationwide effort to
track population trends. The survey coincides with the time of year
when eagles are preparing nests for the breeding season.

Statewide, 75 percent of the nests successfully produced
offspring. A total of 119 eagle chicks were hatched, for a success
rate of 1.25 per active nest.

The overall number of eagles counted during the mid-winter
survey, including nesting eagles and those not nesting, stood at
238. This was 28 percent lower than the record 333 observed in
2010, likely due to snow and high winds impairing the visibility of
observers.

Eagles primarily depend on fish for survival. With its broad
expanses of undisturbed coastal wetlands, the Delaware Bay region
of Cumberland and Salem counties remains the state’s stronghold,
with 60 percent of bald eagle nests.

But eagles are being found in many more places. Eighteen of New
Jersey’s 21 counties now have at least one active nest.

“In addition to the continued increase in the overall numbers of
eagles, what’s really exciting is that they are being found all
across the state in all types of habitats, including along small
lakes and reservoirs in northern New Jersey,” said Kathy Clark, an
Endangered and Nongame Species Program biologist who has worked on
the recovery of the eagle since the program’s early days.

This year, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program fitted a
pair of eagle chicks that hatched at the Merrill Creek Reservoir in
central Warren County with solar-powered transmitters that allow
tracking of the birds’ movement patterns by satellites.

The public can follow the movements of the two eaglets on the
reservoir’s website at www.merrillcreek.org. The Conserve Wildlife
Foundation maintains a blog about these and the rest of New
Jersey’s eagles at www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org

“The tremendous results of 2011 show that species declines can,
with hard work and dedication, be reversed,” said Margaret
O’Gorman, Executive Director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of
New Jersey. “Continued investment in stewardship of wildlife is
essential to continuing the recovery of eagles and other wildlife
in New Jersey.”

The Bald Eagle Research and Management Project is made possible
by those who donate a portion of their New Jersey state income tax
refund to wildlife conservation and those who purchase Conserve
Wildlife license plates for their cars. The project is also
supported by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and
federal grants.

“The bald eagle, along with scores of other endangered and rare
wildlife species, have a much brighter future in our state due to
the work made possible by funds from the tax check-off and the
Conserve Wildlife license plate program,” said DEP Division of Fish
and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “It’s not too soon to begin
thinking about donating a portion of your refund to this worthy and
successful effort.”

The bald eagle remains listed as an endangered species in New
Jersey. The federal government removed the bald eagle from its
endangered species list in 2007. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
is overseeing a 20-year recovery monitoring period.

The 2011 bald eagle project report, which includes a map and
listing of the distribution of nesting eagles in New Jersey, can be
found at http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/raptor_info.htm.

 

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