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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2014

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Larry Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE RELEASES REHABILITATED BALD EAGLE IN CAMDEN COUNTY, HIGHLIGHTING STATE’S RESURGENCE OF BIRDS OF PREY
STATE INCOME TAX CHECK-OFF PROVIDES PUBLIC WITH OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION EFFORTS

(14/P16) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife today released a rehabilitated bald eagle at the Winslow Wildlife Management Area in Camden County to draw attention to the continued resurgence of birds of prey in the Garden State.

“The health of our wildlife populations is a good indicator of the overall health of the environment,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “This is particularly true of birds of prey, also known as raptors, which have made remarkable recoveries in New Jersey over the past several decades. Populations of peregrine falcons, ospreys and bald eagles continue to climb in New Jersey.”

The annual state income tax Check-off for Wildlife provides critical support to the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, which works to promote and protect growing populations of bald eagles, peregrine falcons and ospreys.

Bald eagle populations continue to soar to new record highs each year, with 148 territorial pairs counted in 2013, up from 135 in 2012. Of these, 119 pairs actively nested, meaning they laid eggs. Ninety-six nests produced 176 young. The annual Mid-winter Eagle Survey in 2013 counted 297 bald eagles – 264 in southern New Jersey and 33 in the northern part of the state.

“Not long ago, it would have been nearly miraculous to see a bald eagle in many parts of New Jersey - yet today we can marvel at this majestic creature returning to our skies,” said David Wheeler, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, the DEP’s partner in protecting eagles and other birds of prey. “The inspiring recovery of bald eagles and other raptors across the Garden State is testament to the hard work and visionary collaboration of the state and Conserve Wildlife Foundation and speaks to the many dedicated volunteers whose passion and knowledge have helped so much."

Peregrine falcons are experiencing record productivity rates. Twenty-six pairs of peregrines now occupy appropriate nesting habitat in New Jersey. Though still small, the population exhibited high productivity last year, with all but two pairs successfully fledging at least one young. The 24 nests produced 57 young for a success rate of 92 percent and a production rate of 2.19 young per active nest.

Peregrines can be found nesting on bridge towers, water towers, and high buildings. Some peregrine falcons relocated from New Jersey have even been used to help rebuild populations in West Virginia. Peregrines relocated from New Jersey between 2006 and 2011 have been confirmed inhabiting the mountain areas of West Virginia and western Maryland.

The osprey population, meanwhile, has reached a milestone – nearly 550 pairs now nesting in the state. This total possibly surpasses numbers that have nested in the state prior to steep declines in the 1950s and 1960s due to habitat loss and pesticide contamination.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife, aided by volunteers, documented 542 osprey nests last year. These specialized predators are found predominantly in coastal areas, with heaviest populations found around Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, Cumberland County’s Maurice River marshes, the Avalon-Stone Harbor area, bays around the Wildwoods, and Raritan Bay.

The male eagle released today was injured recently in a territorial fight with another eagle, and was found on a roadside in West Cape May, still locked in battle.  The other eagle flew away.
Biologists captured this bird, which was treated at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Delaware for skin wounds.

As the state's bald eagle population has recovered, particularly in the last two years, fights between adult eagles have increased.  Eagles will fight off intruding eagles to maintain their nests and nesting territories.  Biologists believe this was a battle between two males, possibly over the nest site that is about one mile away from where they were found. 

“Normally, a wild bird would be released close to the area where it was found,” said Kathy Clark, supervising biologist with the DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.  “Because this bird had a serious territorial dispute, we are hoping it will select new territory.”

Division biologists first tagged the bird in 2008, when it was a nestling in Greenwich, Cumberland County.

Check-off funds go to support wildlife conservation programs and are used to match or leverage funds from the federal government’s State Wildlife Grants program. The sales of Conserve Wildlife license plates also help fund the program.

In addition to the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund, taxpayers may choose to designate contributions to other worthwhile programs. Details are included in the Form 1040 instructions. Contributions to any of these check-off funds will reduce your refund commensurately.

Separate reports highlighting the success of the raptor restoration efforts and providing detailed charts and analysis are available at:
http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/raptor_info

For more on the Endangered and Nongame Species Program, including facts on species that the program works to protect, visit:
http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensphome.htm



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Last Updated: March 12, 2014