DEP'S ANNUAL BALD EAGLE
COUNT KICKS OFF YEARLONG CELEBRATION OF ENDANGERED SPECIES
(03/7) TRENTON --- This month, the Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) used its annual two-day
bald eagle count to kick off a yearlong awareness campaign
marking the thirtieth anniversary of New Jersey's Endangered
and Nongame Species Conservation Act. In addition, the DEP
selected the bald eagle as the first in a series of monthly
profiles on New Jersey's endangered species.
"New Jersey's Endangered Species Act
is landmark legislation that has forever changed the way
we manage our wildlife and natural habitats," said
DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Despite its
continued endangered status, the bald eagle is one of New
Jersey's great success stories in endangered species protection
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 hunting early in the century and extensive pesticide
use in later decades decimated the eagle population. Beginning
in 1982, the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife (Fish and
Wildlife) engaged in a comprehensive strategy to address
the situation, helping the State reduce the use of many
pesticides that weaken eagle eggs and acquiring 60 bald
eagles from Canada to form the nucleus of a new breeding
"Unfortunately, safeguards for endangered
species are once again under attack at the federal level,"
said Campbell. "The Governor's anti-sprawl initiatives
acknowledge the importance of protecting endangered species
by preserving critical habitat from overdevelopment."
As part of the yearlong celebration of
species conservation, the DEP will focus each month on a
different threatened or endangered species found in New
Jersey. In New Jersey, the bald eagle breeding population
living here year-round is listed as endangered, while the
wintering population is threatened.
Today, populations of wintering and breeding
eagles continue to climb steadily statewide, with the number
of known breeding pairs rising from a low of one in 1982
to 34 in 2002.
As part of the eagle population monitoring,
Fish and Wildlife coordinates an annual Mid-Winter Bald
Eagle Survey every January, which focuses on known eagle
wintering areas throughout New Jersey, including the upper
Delaware River, most of the major reservoirs, and the South
Jersey river systems.
This year, over 75 volunteers counted 137
bald eagles and five golden eagles. The count is lower than
previous years' observations - volunteers counted 165 bald
eagles in 2002 and 140 in 2001 - yet Fish and Wildlife biologists
say that this likely is a random result of weather conditions
and not reflective of any drop in the total population.
New Jersey's Endangered and Nongame Species
Act was signed into law on December 14, 1973, two weeks
before President Nixon signed the federal Endangered Species
Act. The law is designed to protect species whose survival
in New Jersey is imperiled by loss of habitat, over-exploitation,
pollution, or other impacts. New Jersey currently lists
more than 35 species as endangered and more than 25 species
For more information on each month's featured
endangered species and updates about coming conservation
events, visit the DEP's website at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep.