Eagle Release Draws Attention to State’s Endangered Species Protection Law

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife today released a rehabilitated bald eagle at a Morris County golf course to draw attention to the 40th anniversary of the state’s endangered species protection law. The annual state income tax check-off provides critical support to efforts such as this.

“The health of our wildlife populations is a good indicator of the overall health of the environment,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “Since the enactment of the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act of 1973, we have had many success stories in New Jersey, such as the return of the bald eagle from nearly being wiped out in New Jersey to more than 110 pairs successfully raising a record 165 offspring in 2012.”

To mark the anniversary and draw attention to the income tax check-off, the Division of Fish and Wildlife released a four-year-old male bald eagle that was rehabilitated by the nonprofit Raptor Trust. The eagle was found in January with a severely dislocated wing on a roadside along the Oak Ridge Reservoir in Morris County. The release took place at the Morris County Park System’s Berkshire Valley Golf Course.

The Endangered Wildlife Fund check-off is located on Line 59 of Form NJ-1040. Taxpayers are provided the option of contributing $10, $20, or an amount of his or her choosing, toward protection of threatened and endangered species.

The state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act was signed into law on December 14, 1973, two weeks before President Nixon signed the federal Endangered Species Act.

As a result of the state law, the Division of Fish and Wildlife established the Endangered and Nongame Species Program to carry out the work necessary to restore and maintain these species.

New Jersey currently lists 37 species as endangered, including the bald eagle, red knot, piping plover, bog turtle and eastern tiger salamander. Thirty-two species are listed as threatened, including the yellow-crowned night heron, osprey, wood turtle, and northern pine snake.

Check-of funds go to support wildlife conservation programs and are used to match or leverage funds from the federal government’s State Wildlife Grants program. The sales of Conserve Wildlife license plates also help fund the program.

“Donating a small portion of your tax refund to the Endangered Wildlife Fund will go directly to help safeguard our state’s rich fish and wildlife heritage and habitat for future generations to enjoy by supporting research and monitoring, improving management on public and private lands, combating invasive species, addressing wildlife disease problems, and protecting native habitats” said Kelly Mooij, Vice President of Government Relations for the New Jersey Audubon Society.

In addition to the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund, taxpayers may choose to designate contributions to other worthwhile programs. Details are included in the Form 1040 instructions. Contributions to any of these check-off funds will reduce your refund commensurately.

News release developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.