Endangered New Jersey
Updates on Endangered & Threatened Species
environmental updates on New Jersey try
|Eagle Update Summer 2002
Endangered and Nongame Species Program biologists and tireless volunteers
have reported another excellent season for New Jersey's bald eagles. This
season we monitored a total of 34 pairs, up from last year's total of 31 pairs.
Of these, 28 pairs were active (meaning they laid and incubated eggs) and
produced 34 young (our preliminary count as of June 10).
July 2000 What's Happening to the Frogs?
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a nationwide scientific study of wildlife refuges to investigate the cause of malformed frogs, toads and salamanders cropping up across the country and around the world. 43 refuges in 31 states from Alaska to Hawaii and Maryland to California will be studied by biologists and volunteers. These studies will focus on the impact of pollutants, especially pesticides, on amphibian malformations.
"What's happening to these amphibians, and what their plight can tell us about our own environment are some of the questions the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to find out as we Check-off a first ever national amphibian survey of our refuge system," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"It seems fitting to launch this national amphibian study at Patuxent Research Refuge, where in the late 1960s, some of the key research was done to link DDT to reproductive problems in peregrine falcons, bald eagles and other raptors," said Director Clark. That research led the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of DDT in 1972.
In the last five years, an increasing number of frogs and toads with severe malformations have been observed throughout the United States and around the world. Surveys conducted in 1997 in the northeast and Midwest found malformation rates ranging up to 17.9 percent at some of the refuges.
"Frog populations around the world are in a state of dramatic decline," said Director Clark. "When frogs and toads are either not found at all or are found with malformations on our national wildlife refuges, there is something wrong. We are here today to try to find out what that something is."
Amphibians are good indicators of significant environmental changes. Frogs and toads are highly sensitive to their environments, since they breathe at least partly through their skin. Scientists are studying a variety of possible causes for the declines and malformations, including disease and fungal infections, habitat loss, thinning ozone and increased ultraviolet radiation, pollution and other contaminant factors. The potential combined impact of some or all of these factors make it more difficult for scientists to determine the cause.
Today, eighteen species of frogs, toads and salamanders are listed as either threatened or endangered in the United States and Puerto Rico. Since 1989, scientists have documented four major "hot spots" for amphibian declines: western North America, Central America, northeast Australia and Puerto Rico. Some of the American declines have occurred in the most unlikely spots- the nation's refuges, parks and wilderness areas.
This year, scientists will be studying malformed frogs, toads and salamanders, as well as amphibian eggs, to determine the effect of pesticides on these species. Data acquired through the refuge studies done this year will be analyzed along with data gathered from other agencies on other suspected causes of decline and malformations. Building on the information gathered from these studies, and using other existing data, the Service will create a comprehensive map of hot spots nationwide and provide concrete management guidelines for wildlife refuges and other land managers to address potential problems.
Director Clark encouraged the public to get involved in protecting amphibians. "Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. We can all help by choosing non-chemical weed controls whenever possible, minimizing our use of fertilizer and reducing our dependence on pesticides," said Clark. "If we all take these actions, we will not only be helping amphibians, but we will be taking care of our watersheds and other species like birds and fish as well."
AMERICAN PEREGRINE FALCONS AND FALCONRY
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft Environmental Assessment July 25, 2000 detailing its proposal to allow limited capture of wild American peregrine falcons in the western United States for use in falconry.
The proposed action, if approved, would allow the capture, or "take" of up to 5 percent of the annual production of nestling American peregrine falcons in the 11 states west of the 100th Meridian, where populations are high. The States that would be allowed to take peregrine nestlings are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The proposed action would continue to prohibit the capture, or "take" of nestling juvenile American peregrines in other states, where peregrine populations have not yet increased to the same levels.
With more than 1,650 breeding pairs of peregrines nationwide, productivity goals for the peregrine's recovery from the Endangered Species list have all been met or exceeded. Maximum take of nestlings under the proposed alternative in initial years would be about 82 young. Allowing this level of take would still allow for healthy population growth of about 3 percent per year under existing conditions, according to Service projections. The management plan allows take to be reduced or suspended if populations decline or fail to meet growth projections.
"Falconry is an ancient sport, and falconers played an important role in bringing the peregrine back from the brink of extinction. This proposed action will protect the nation's peregrine falcon population and ensure that the birds don't end up back on the Endangered Species list, while providing falconers with opportunities to continue their sport," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.
Although captive bred peregrines have been available for falconry since 1983, wild peregrines have not been available due to ESA restrictions, except in Alaska under certain circumstances.
The August 25, 1999 decision to remove the peregrine from the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List had the effect of allowing take of wild peregrines for falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, and other purposes permissible under Migratory Bird Treaty Act regulations.
In 1970, the Service listed the American peregrine falcon as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, the predecessor of the current law. The peregrine population in the eastern United States had completely disappeared, and populations in the west had declined by as much as 80 to 90 percent below historical levels. By 1975, the population reached an all-time low of 324 nesting pairs in North America. The related arctic peregrine also was listed as endangered, but was delisted in 1994. The banning of DDT made the recovery of the peregrine falcon possible. But the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act and the extraordinary partnership efforts of the Service and state wildlife agencies, universities, private ornithological groups, and falcon enthusiasts accelerated the pace of recovery through captive breeding programs, reintroduction efforts and the protection of nest sites during the breeding season. Similar efforts took place in Canada, where the Canadian Wildlife Service and provincial agencies took the lead in a major captive breeding and reintroduction program.
Copies of the Environmental Assessment can be downloaded from the Service's Internet site at: http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/issues/americanperegrines/draftea.html
Fishermen Guilty of Illegal Horseshoe Crabbing
Wilmington, Del. -- Two Milford, Del., men were found guilty Friday, March 31, in federal district court in Wilmington of misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act and conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law prohibiting interstate transportation of wildlife taken in violation of state law.
The two men captured horseshoe crabs in violation of state law and then transported the crabs across state lines, a Lacey Act violation.
Horseshoe crabs have significant ecological, economic and scientific importance. The States of Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware have passed legislation to curb the horseshoe crab fishery, spurred by a one-third drop in the number of spawning crabs since 1991. In Delaware and other Eastern states, horseshoe crab eggs are a primary food source for migratory shorebirds. Delaware is one of the largest stopover areas for shorebirds in North America, with an estimated 1.5 million shorebirds passing through each spring. As the crabs deposit their eggs, the birds gorge themselves on this critical energy source to fuel their journey from South Americaa to the Arctic.
Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry uses horseshoe crab blood to develop medicines. And, several regional fisheries, primarily eel and conch, use horseshoe crabs for bait.
The maximum penalty for misdemeanor Lacey Act violations is one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and forfeiture of vehicles involved in the crime.
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PROPOSES DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT FOR POPULATIONS OF PIPING PLOVERS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing
to designate critical
Critical habitat for the breeding populations
of piping plovers on the
In the wintering areas, critical habitat is being proposed along 1672 miles of coastline in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. These include coastal areas with intertidal beaches and flats and associated dune systems and flats above annual high tide. Intertidal sites offer foraging and roosting sites while areas above high tide provide refuge from high winds and cold weather.
Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. These areas do not necessarily have to be occupied by the species at the time of designation.
A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to situations where federal funding or a federal permit is involved. For example, the designation of critical habitat does not affect a landowner undertaking a project on private land that does not involve Federal funding or require a Federal permit or authorization.
The piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
is named for its melodic mating call. It is a small, pale-colored North
American shorebird. The bird's light sand-colored plumage blends
in with sandy beaches and shorelines. There are three populations of piping
plovers in the United States. The most endangered is the Great Lakes
breeding population. The Northern Great Plains and Atlantic Coast populations
are classified as threatened. All piping plovers winter along the southeast
In recent decades, piping plover populations have drastically declined, especially in the Great Lakes Region. Breeding habitat has been replaced by shoreline development and recreational uses causing plover numbers to plummet. Similar threats face the species on its wintering grounds where loss of habitat threatens the ability of these birds to survive to the next breeding season.
As a listed species under the Endangered Species Act, the piping plover is already protected wherever it occurs and Federal agencies are required to consult on any action they take which might affect the species. The designation of critical habitat will help the species by ensuring Federal agencies and the public alike are aware of the habitat needs of this species and that proper consultation is conducted when required by law.
USFWS - 6/00
N.J. SPECIES REPORT CARD for 1999
Bald Eagles: 1 active pairs fledged a record 28 young.
Osprey: A rebounding year with 331 nesting pairs fledging an average of 1.38 per active nest. Levels of organocholorine in eggs & prey fish are down.
Eastern Woodrats: Palisades nest live trapping indicates 24. Population expanding & healthy.
Bobcats: Sighting reported throughout the state. Stable.
Bog Turtles: New populations found in Salem & Gloucester counties. 30 sites have been managed mostly through the control of invasive vegetation.
Peregrine Falcons: 17 nesting pairs. Includes 11 on bridges, towers, platforms or buildings. Human disturbance & contaminants are major problems.
Piping Plovers: 107 nesting pairs with a productivity of 1.29 per nest. Highest success in 13 years, but status still tenuous.
Black Skimmers & Least terns: Both beach nesters had a good year but status is questionable.
Timber Rattlesnakes: Only populations along the Kittatinny Ridge seem to be holding their own - human encroachment being the largest problem.
Buck Moths: Of the 5 sites known to be recently active, only one population was found in 1999.
Mitchell's Satyr: No recorded sightings for the past 5 years. Might be extirpated.
Strathmere Parcels Acquisition: The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will acquire approximately 40 acres on a coastal barrier island in Cape May County. The acquisition will protect feeding habitat for the threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover and eliminate potential disturbance of plover nest sites on Whale Beach. Protecting the Whale Beach area is a unique opportunity in New Jersey because it is a portion of a coastal barrier island with little development.
Federal: $562,000 State: $187,500
Conaskonk Point Acquisition: The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in cooperation with Monmouth County, the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, the Baykeeper American Littoral Society, Hi-Mar Stripers Club, the Atlantic Coast Anglers and other partners, will acquire 200 acres on Raritan Bay, a top acquisition priority for the State's Harbor Estuary Program. Conaskonk Point provides one of the best opportunities in the Raritan Bayshore, and the entire New York/New Jersey Estuary, to protect an intact salt marsh.
Federal: $210,875 State: $118,125 Partners: $8,500
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News releases are also available on the World Wide Web at http://news.fws.gov
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE CONTINUES DIALOGUE ON CRITICAL HABITAT AND ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION
As part of an ongoing reassessment of critical habitat as a tool to conserve threatened and endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening a public comment period and will host two workshops to discuss the issue. In the meantime, six
court-ordered proposed and final critical habitat determinations will be published in the Federal Register within the next month. "Since the loss of habitat is the leading cause of species' imperilment, the conservation of habitat is absolutely critical to survival and recovery of threatened and endangered species and has always been a focus of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark. "We are looking at how we can strengthen the link between habitat conservation and species recovery through the critical habitat process."
In the past, the Service has used its limited funding in a way that provides the most conservation benefit to species. The Service has identified more than 200 species that are in need of protection but remain unlisted under the Endangered Species Act. Protection of those species has thus been the highest conservation priority, rather than expending dollars on designating critical habitat for species already under the protective measures provided by the Act. Listed species' habitat is protected under other provisions of the Act whether or not that habitat is formally designated as critical. During the past year, the Service's approach has been rejected by the courts, and the Service has been ordered to designate critical habitat for several species.
"Critical habitat" is a term in the Endangered
Species Act referring to the specific areas that contain physical or biological
features essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species.
A listed species does not necessarily have to be present in an area for that
area to be designated as critical habitat.
Press Release October 22, 1999
Fish and Wildlife Service Releases New Guidance For Listing Endangered SpeciesThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized new guidelines today for assigning priorities for listing endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act for fiscal years 1999 and 2000. This guidance allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to allocate funds and resources to the species that are in the greatest need of protection. "This new guidance will help us continue to set priorities so that we are addressing the needs of those species that are most imperiled first," notes Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.In an effort to continue to address the needs of species facing the greatest threats, the new priority guidance establishes the following priorities for listing endangered species: Priority One: Emergency listings for species facing a significant risk to their well-being
Priority Two: Final decisions on pending proposed listings
Priority Three: Determining whether candidate species should be listed
Priority Four: Findings on petitions to add species to the list and petitions to de-list or reclassify speciesCritical habitat actions such as determining whether it is prudent to designate critical habitat, proposing to designate critical habitat, and making final designations of critical habitat will no longer fall under this guidance. The Service expects to complete a number of critical habitat actions during FY 2000 which will be funded separately from other listing actions. In April 1995, Congress imposed a one year moratorium on listing species. When the moratorium was lifted, the Service faced a backlog of 243 proposed species awaiting final determinations. Once the moratorium was lifted in April 1996, the Service created a priority approach to dealing with the listing process that would address the needs of the most vulnerable species first. Final listing determinations have now been made for all of the 243 proposed species that made up the moratorium backlog. While the moratorium backlog of proposed species has been eliminated, the Service has proposed additional species for listing since the end of the moratorium. Today, only 56 species proposed for listing await a final determination. Since the moratorium was lifted and listing priority guidance was employed, 273 final determinations have been completed, including 245 final listings, and 28 withdrawals of proposed rules. The total number of endangered and threatened species in the United States is now 1197.The Service published the new Listing Priority Guidance in the October 22, 1999 Federal Register.
October 25, 1999
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PUBLISHES LIST O
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published a revised Candidate Notice of Review naming 258 species of plants and animals that may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Notice also identifies the 56 domestic animal and plant species that are currently proposed for addition to the lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.
The Candidate Notice of Review is published primarily to solicit new information on the status of candidate species and threats to their survival. The Notice was last updated in September 1997. The Service relies on a variety of sources in determining whether a species warrants listing under the Act, including contributions from private, university and government scientists and other citizens, as well as local, State and Federal land management and planning agencies. The Notice also provides an advance look at which species the Service is considering proposing for protection, encourages conservation, and helps to avoid conflicts by promoting alternative planning and development strategies that accommodate the needs of candidate species.
The complete Notice and list of candidates and proposed species are published in today's Federal Register.
These are award-winning works that all
deal with some aspect of environmental study. A few new works are added every
year and a program will be presented at the NJ Audubon Society in September.
The collection is run by the Edison Media Arts Consortium which also produces
the Black Maria Film & Video Festival & The NJ Young Filmmakers' Festival.
This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in this important subject
matter and I'm trying to spread the word! If you'd like more info, check out
our website at: http://ellserver1.njcu.edu/TAEBMFF/index.htm
Today, the world's fastest bird soars off of the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the peregrine falcon from the list of endangered and threatened species, marking one of the most dramatic success stories of the Endangered Species Act. "It's a spectacular summer for America's great birds, the bald eagle, the Aleutian Canada goose and today the peregrine falcon," said the Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt. "And beneath the wings of all their recovery stands America's great law: the Endangered Species Act."
"The peregrine falcon is a perfect example of the success we can have when we work in partnership to recover endangered species," said Secretary Babbitt. "With the help of the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act, and the visionary work in captive breeding and release efforts by The Peregrine Fund, the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center and the University of California's Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, the peregrine flies through the skies of almost every state in the Union."
The peregrine falcon joins the southeastern population of the brown pelican, the American alligator, the Rydberg milk-vetch, and the gray whale as graduates of the endangered species list.
The peregrine will continue to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests except when specifically authorized by the Interior Department, such as in the case of regulated hunting seasons for game birds.
The Endangered Species Act requires that a species be monitored for a minimum of 5 years after delisting. The Service has decided to monitor the peregrine falcon for 13 years with surveys occurring once every 3 years, allowing for 5 surveys, to provide data that will reflect the status of at least two generations of peregrines. If it becomes evident during this period that the bird again needs the Act's protection, the Service would relist the species.
State wildlife agencies also played a fundamental role in the recovery process by protecting nesting habitat, carrying out releases, and monitoring populations within their borders. In New Jersey, the peregrine will remain an endangered species.
Migratory Bird Habitat to be Restored at Superfund Site in Wayne Township, New Jersey
W.R. Grace and Company officials, as part of a natural resource damage settlement recently entered in U.S. District Court, have agreed to pay $270,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the restoration of injured wildlife habitat at the Wayne Interim Storage Site in Wayne Township, Passaic County, N.J. The money will be used to restore and enhance migratory bird habitat in the Pompton River watershed, which was contaminated with radioactive materials and heavy metals from the site. W.R. Grace and Company extracted thorium and rare earth from monazite ore at the Wayne Interim Storage Site from 1948 to 1971. The contaminants spread from the site with surface water run-off and other water discharges. Service biologists will evaluate potential ways to restore habitat at the site and will identify a preferred project. The Service has been involved in natural resource contamination issues for over 50 years. Its Environmental Contaminants Program is the only federal program dedicated to identifying and preventing harm to fish and wildlife from contaminants.
Detailed wildlife & habitat maps for most of the state will be released for state regulators, local planners, developers and citizens. The 6 year Landscape Project used satellite mapping imagery to create the maps. The Project looks to protect entire ecosystems rather than focus on a few individual species. The maps rank critical area in order of importance. The first maps released are for Cape May, Cumberland & parts of Atlantic counties. The Highlands & Ridge & Valley sections of northwest NJ will be next. Maps should be completed by year's end & will eventually also be available in the Internet.
January 1999 - MID-WINTER EAGLE SURVEY FOR 1999
According to the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, 90 bald
eagles and 2 golden eagles were counted by nearly 100 volunteers who participated
in the annual statewide mid-winter eagle survey held January 9th and 10th.
The total is a decrease from last year's count of 119 bald eagles and 6 golden
eagles with biologists attributing the lower numbers to poor weather conditions
during the survey and mild fall/early winter conditions.
January 20, 1999 -- WILDLIFE CONSERVATION BILL REINTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
WASHINGTON, DC - Legislation was reintroduced in the Senate yesterday containing major funding for state wildlife conservation, recreation and education. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1999 (S. 25) (also known as CARA) dedicates a percentage of federal offshore oil and gas revenues to states for wildlife programs. The House version is expected to be reintroduced shortly. Both bills were first introduced in October 1998.
"We are thrilled to see the strong, bipartisan support in Congress for restoring America's wildlife, from songbirds to turtles," said Naomi Edelson, Teaming With Wildlife director for IAFWA. "The legislation also will support wildlife related tourism and wildlife watching that add billions of dollars to our economy."
More than 3,000 organizations and businesses can claim responsibility for bringing the goals of a national initiative called "Teaming with Wildlife" to the attention of Congress.
Watchable Wildlife Guide (Falcon Press)
This guide to 99 viewing sites for wildlife
in NJ was a joint effort of the ENSP and Defenders of Wildlife. It contains
8 eco-region tours for ecology-minded tourists. The Division of Fish &
Game has provided $500,000 of Green Acres Bond funding to improve trails,
platforms & signs in the 18 Wildlife Management Areas included in the
The Spring '98 Delaware Bay counts peaked at a good 259,000 with 3 of the main 4 species (red-knots, ruddy turnstones, & sanderlings) up. Unfortunately, their reason for being there - the incredible on shore movement of horseshoe crabs to lay eggs hat the northern traveling birds need for food - crab numbers are down.