More than 102 pairs of bald eagles are now nesting in the Garden State, which the state Department of Environmental Protection boasts as a significant milestone in environmental restoration and species management.
In the early 1980's, DEP officials could identify only one nesting bald eagle pair in an isolated swamp in southern New Jersey. Now, DEP officials have counted 102 active pairs, plus 11 more pairs in the process of establishing nesting territories. This year's survey documented a record 22 new nests, of which 16 are in southern Jersey, four in northern Jersey, and two in central Jersey. The Delaware Bay region of Cumberland and Salem counties is the state's stronghold, with 60 percent of the state's eagles nests. Eighteen of New Jersey's 21 counties have at least one active nest.
This year, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program fitted a pair of eagle chicks that hatched at the Merrill Creek Reservoir in central Warren County with solar-powered transmitters that allow tracking of the birds' movements by satellite. Unfortunately, the female chick has since died of starvation and West Nile Virus. But to see how far the eagles travel, and to follow the movements of the male bird, the public can visit the reservoir's website. A full report on the project, as a well as a map of the nest locations also is available online.