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NJ proposes bald eagle’s removal from endangered species list after big rebound

New Jersey proposed removing bald eagles from the endangered species list on Monday, citing an increase in population since the state had just one nesting pair in a remote county more than 40 years ago.

State Environmental Commissioner Sean LaTourette said in a statement that the turnaround was due to the efforts of volunteers and state experts who raised hatchlings, protected nests and educated the public. The proposed rule to remove the bald eagle from the endangered species list also includes the threatened osprey.

The ministry said the proposal means populations of America’s national symbols, the bald eagle and osprey, will be able to recover and the survival of these species is no longer at risk.

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“The delisting of the eagle and osprey marks a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in New Jersey,” LaTourette said.

The federal government removed the bald eagle from the endangered species list in 2007. New Jersey removed the bird from its state endangered species list due to nest disturbance and threats to its habitat.

A bald eagle was photographed in flight on March 12, 2022, in Milpitas, California. (Photo by Liu Guangguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

The use of the pesticide DDT and destruction of habitat played a major role in the bird’s decline. The chemical was ingested by the fish that eagles and ospreys eat, causing “lasting effects up the food chain,” including thinning the shells of their eggs. Public use of DDT was banned in 1972.

As of 2023, there are 267 nesting pairs of bald eagles in New Jersey counties, up from just one in southern Cumberland County in the early 1980s, according to the department.

New Jersey began trying to reverse the decline in the early 1980s by introducing eagles from Canada and also conducting artificial incubation and breeding efforts, the department said.

Ospreys, also known as fish hawks, usually live along the coast. Ospreys were also heavily affected by DDT, with the number of nests dropping to around 50 50 years ago. In 2023, the state recorded a record 800 osprey nests.

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The proposed rules are open for public comment until August 2nd.