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January 16, 2016

N.J. bald eagle population shows promising growth in new report

Report gathers statewide data collected by biologists and volunteers

Wildlife Eagles
011516_BaldEagle Stock/AP

Bald eagle.

A new report from the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey shows that the state's bald eagle population has made significant progress in its recovery from a stark decline that left the species on the brink in the early 1980's.

The report gathered statewide data collected by biologists and volunteers with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“With 161 pairs of bald eagles this past year — up from just a single nest in the early 1980’s — the dramatic ongoing recovery of bald eagles across the northeast continues to inspire so many of us,” said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director. “The thrill of seeing a bald eagle fly across the sky is unparalleled. This report captures how these eagles are continuing their All-American return.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Eagle Cam survives Pa. budget crisis, will enter second season 

In total, biologists found 13 new eagle pairs in 2015: Nine in South Jersey, two in Central Jersey and two in North Jersey.

While the federal government removed bald eagles from its list of Endangered Species in 2007, the large North American bird still remains state-endangered during breeding season and state-threatened during non-breeding season.

Just as in neighboring Pennsylvania, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and Duke Farms provide a wildly popular springtime EagleCam that has attracted more than 10 million viewers.

Here are some highlights from the 2015 report:

• The statewide population increased to 161 territorial pairs in 2015, up from 156 last year.

• Thirteen new eagle pairs were found this season, nine in the south, two in central and two in northern New Jersey.

• One hundred-fifty pairs were known active (meaning they laid eggs), up from 146 last year.

• One hundred twenty-two nests (81 percent) were known to be successful in producing 199 young, for a productivity rate of 1.33 young per known-outcome active nest, which is above the required range of 0.9-1.1 young per nest for population maintenance.

• One chick, orphaned from a Maryland nest, was fostered into a Cumberland County nest and fledged, bringing the total fledged to 200.

• Twenty-eight (19 percent) nests failed to fledge young.

• The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with 40% of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties.