2019 a record year for New Jersey bald eagle population

BURLINGTON COUNTY, N.J. (WPVI) -- The numbers are in and 2019 has been a record year for bald eagles in the Garden State.

"Well over 200 eagles fledged - or left the nest - in a healthy and safe manner. This was a record for N.J. and it continues to come back, as we've seen over the last 30 plus years," said David Wheeler, Executive Director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Wheeler says in the 1980s New Jersey only had one bald eagle nest. He says the past several years have been especially fruitful for eagles in New Jersey.

So why the boom? Wheeler says one factor is a decrease in pesticide use that killed many eagles decades ago.

Another big factor: dozens of volunteers who monitor the nests and keep an eye out for predators.

Kevin and Karin Buynie have been monitoring New Jersey bald eagle nests for 11 years. Their Burlington County home is filled with bald eagle artwork and artifacts.

"We've helped monitor and help to be a part of 32 eaglets that fledged. So it is kind of rewarding," said Kevin Buynie.

In most cases conservationists like to keep the locations of eagles nests a secret so people don't get too close to the eagles, which could cause them to abandon their nests, even with eggs inside.

The public can access live webcams through the Conserve Wildlife of New Jersey website, which gives people a view inside the nest.

Volunteers like the Buynies hope people will keep their distance, so the numbers keep going up.

"It could go back and slip down to one nest in N.J.," said Karin Buynie. "That's very possible. Without doing that and educating people that could happen."

Despite the climbing population, bald eagles are still a protected species in the state of New Jersey.
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