More eagles are nesting in New Jersey

31 pairs counted, up from 25 last season

January 04, 2002|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Don't count out the bald eagle in New Jersey.

There was just one pair nesting in the state about 20 years ago, but today there are 31 pairs - six more than last season, and a record since the eagles' near disappearance. Comprehensive management of the eagle population during the last two decades has resulted in the increase, according to the state wildlife officials.

Officials from the wildlife division's Endangered and Nongame Species Program said about half the nests are clustered along the rural Delaware Bay shore in Cumberland and Salem counties, with the rest scattered in Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Hunterdon, Monmouth and Warren counties.

The increase is significant because the use of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972, had nearly wiped out the state's bald eagle population.

The number of nesting pairs had declined from an average of 50 to one by 1970, and it remained one until the early 1980s.

The state used 60 hand-raised eaglets from Manitoba, Canada, to help restore the population, and by 1990 there were five nesting pairs of bald eagles in New Jersey.

The exact locations of all but one of the nests are kept secret so the birds remain undisturbed.

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