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Survey Shows Record Number of Bald Eagles Wintering in New Jersey

March 7, 2006

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reports that 2006 was a record year for wintering bald eagles in New Jersey. A total of 194 bald eagles were tallied statewide, surpassing the previous record of 179 counted in 2005.

The Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is conducted every January to monitor wintering populations of eagles in the United States. The New Jersey count is part of the nationwide survey which took place this year on January 14 and 15.

The Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) of the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for doing the annual count in New Jersey. This year, the ENSP contracted Allan Ambler of the National Park Service to coordinate the survey on the upper Delaware River, and Vince Elia of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory to coordinate volunteers in the southern half of the state. Kris Schantz, Senior Zoologist with the Division's Endangered and Nongame Species Program coordinated efforts in northern New Jersey on inland lake and reservoir sites.

Coordinators organized more than 100 volunteers to cover all suitable and known wintering areas for eagles and then tallied the data collected on both days. Volunteers recorded numbers of eagles observed, as well as data on eagle locations and activities. This information will be used by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program to delineate critical eagle wintering habitat.

Southern New Jersey hosted the largest number of wintering eagles - 154 - along the Delaware Bay shore and Atlantic coast. There were 33 spotted on northern New Jersey inland reservoirs and 7 in the Delaware Water Gap area of the Delaware River.

The increase in wintering eagles over the past few years can be attributed to the increasing population of nesting eagles in New Jersey and the northeastern states. They remain on the endangered list statewide because of their sensitivity to environmental contaminants, habitat loss and human disturbance. The challenge to biologists and citizens now is protecting the lands and waterways used by eagles to maintain and enhance this species' recovery.

Below is a breakdown of this year's count as well as a graph showing counts from 1978 to the present. Information about New Jersey's bald eagles as well as restoration efforts can be found at

  Total Adult Immatures Unknown
Southern NJ 154 95 59 --
Water Gap 7 2 2 3
N. Reservoirs 33 13 20 --
Totals 194 110 81 3
Graph of 2006 Mid-Winter Eagle Survey

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: March 7, 2006