Bald Eagle released in Gloucester County, New Jersey

Watch report from Action News
March 11, 2014 3:35:35 PM PDT
Wildlife experts in New Jersey say there has been a remarkable resurgence of bald eagles and other birds of prey in the Garden State. But unfortunately the money needed to continue protecting the endangered species has seen a dramatic decline.

The adult bald eagle was set free at the Winslow Wildlife Management area near the border of Monroe in Gloucester County.

"We had our plans laid for him to fly into the wind, and then he pretty much did a U-turn and flew the other way," said Lead Biologist Kathy Clark.

The eagle's release symbolizes the incredible recovery of raptors across the East Coast, especially in New Jersey.

"These species were down to a few, if any, just a few decades ago, and now, thanks to the hard work of scientist from the state and from Conserve Wildlife Foundation, they have bounced back to become commonplace sightings," said David Wheeler, Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

They bounced back from the major damage done by the pesticide DDT, used after World War II, and then later banned.

In fact, the number of nesting Eagle pairs in New Jersey has increased from just one pair in 1982 to 150 today.

However the money raised from the Endangered Wildlife state income tax check-off on residents' 1040 tax form has seen a decline.

"The tax check-off has been around for a long time, and people can check off part or all of their refund on line 59," said Clark.

The eagle released Tuesday was rehabilitated from injuries sustained in a territorial fight with another bird in Cape May.

"We picked him up less than a week ago," said Clark. "He was talon-locked with another adult eagle."

The bird was last seen in 2008 as a banded eagle chick monitored with other eagles by about 80 dedicated volunteers.

Red and Mary Jane Horner were among them, and were in attendance at the bird's release on Tuesday.