EFFORTS ARE PAYING OFF: BALD EAGLE NUMBERS IN NEW JERSEY
(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.