Birds facing extinction is a global phenomenon. Who can help fight and protect them? How does the state participate in these efforts? Let us take a look at it using the Bald eagle program at New Jersey.
Bald eagles were getting extinct in New Jersey and in 1973 when the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act was passed, there seems to have been only one pair of bald eagles. Now, nearly 48 years later, we have about 220 pairs of bald eagles nesting in across 21 New Jersey counties.
How did the data look?
|Years||Number of bald eagle pairs seen in NJ|
What does it take to bring about a change?
1. Analyzing patterns -> 2. Realizing a problem -> 3. Authorities decide to act on it -> 4. Legislation is passed -> 5. State and organizations take it to implement -> 6. Detailed plans and tracking mechanisms setup -> 7. -> Metrics analyzed and reported periodically 8. Issues analyzed and resolved by experts-> 9. Improvement seen
Why was there no increase in 1970s and early 1980s?
ENSP biologists did a study in early 1980s and took the eggs for artificial incubation and fostered the young back to the nest. This fostering technique was necessary as the eggshells were thinning due to DDT contamination. Apparently, the eggs, if left in the nest for the adult eagles to incubate – would crack under the birds’ weight. Research, trial and error by biologists over few years found the issue and a way to resolve it.
partnering with other states or organizations
Sometimes, we need external help & expertise. It was true for this project as well. Young eagles were brought into NJ to increase the number of nesting pairs across sites in later half of 1980s, as it takes young eagles about 4-5 years to reproduce.
skills required for this change to occur
Biologists, Dedicated programs like Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Legislation & Law enforcement (Conservation act of 1973), Volunteers, bird watchers, Metrics & Benchmarking organizations to understand the right thickness of an eagle’s eggshell, statisticians, scientists, environmentalists, managers, implementation team, documentation & record keeping, software applications for processes and life cycle management, data collection tools, survey tools, analytics toolkit…. and the list continues.
Choosing to do one right thing, in the right way, has the potential to create so many skillsets and jobs and trigger the cycle of change – not just for the eagles – but for all of us as well!
- Conserve wild life foundation of NJ – Bald eagles
- NJ.gov site – Bald eagle project reports
- NJDEP – Division of Fish & Wildlife raptors in New Jersey
- Conserve wildlife NJ – Bald eagle
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