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March 18, 2004

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795


(04/21) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that bald eagle numbers in New Jersey are increasing due to the efforts of volunteers who monitor bald eagle nests and report critical data concerning incubation, hatching and fledging dates to DEP wildlife biologists. Along with monitoring the nests, volunteers report new eagle sightings that often lead to the discovery of additional nests.

"Despite its continued endangered status, the bald eagle is one of New Jersey's great success stories in endangered species protection and management," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "That success is attributed in large part to the dedicated volunteers who monitor nests throughout the state."

In January, volunteers counted the highest number of bald eagles ever recorded in New Jersey during the annual Mid-Winter Eagle Survey. A total of 178 bald eagles and nine golden eagles were observed.

These impressive statistics continue the rising trend in eagle numbers that began in the early 1980s. Eagle numbers have not only been increasing in New Jersey, but throughout the Northeast and lower 48 states.

Prior to 1982, the number of bald eagles had plummeted statewide - fewer than 10 bald eagles were observed in the state's initial annual survey in 1978 as extensive pesticide use in the mid-1900's decimated the eagle population. Beginning in 1982, the Department's Division of Fish and Wildlife engaged in a comprehensive strategy to address the situation by acquiring 60 bald eagles from Canada to form the nucleus of a new breeding population.

There are approximately 40 volunteers who assist DEP wildlife biologists by monitoring bald eagle nests from the beginning of the nesting season in December until the young birds take their first flight in late summer. During the 2003 nesting season, volunteers logged a total of 1800 hours. Volunteers provide further protection to the bald eagle by alerting the Department when they witness snowmobiles, ATV's or people walking too close to a bald eagle nesting location. Often volunteers act as educators, informing the public that walking too close to a nesting eagle pair can cause the birds to abandon their nest.

The New Jersey survey is part of a nationwide effort to assess the number of eagles wintering in the lower 48 states. Coordinated by the Division's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, the survey takes place the same time each year and focuses on known eagle wintering areas throughout the Garden State. In North Jersey this includes the upper Delaware River from the Water Gap to Port Jervis, and most of the major reservoirs such as Round Valley, Merrill Creek, Boonton and Wanaque. In the south, surveyors center on the major river systems flowing into the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay.






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