Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pequest Open House and Sportsmen's Flea Market This Weekend

Pequest Open House and Sportsmen's Flea Market
March 28 & 29, 2015
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily

Every year the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center opens its doors to the public for the annual Open House, which usually takes place the weekend before Trout Season opens. The event is held at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and is open both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. (Please leave pets at home - only service dogs are permitted on site.)

This event is great for people of all ages and there are so many things to see and do throughout the day. The Open House allows the Division of Fish and Wildlife to show off the trout we raise at the state-of-the-art Pequest Trout Hatchery and it serves as a reminder that spring has just arrived.

Each year, thousands of people come to the hatchery to experience this event for themselves. And each year, the Division of Fish and Wildlife strives to make this a bigger event than the year before. This year is no different, and instead of just focusing on fish, we will be inviting many different outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists to join us in our celebrations.

There will be numerous environmental and conservation exhibits, historical reenactors, wildlife artists, carvers and taxidermists with goods and services to sell. Activities include fishing, archery ranges, hunter education (pre-registration required), kids' activities and more. A sportsmen's flea market will be open so you can purchase what you need to get started or to stock up for the upcoming fishing and hunting seasons.

♦ Fish Feeding Demonstrations at 11:00 and 2:00 at the Observation Platform. Watch as our
hatchery workers drive around the raceways feeding our hungry trout!
♦ Wildlife Artists and Conservation Groups from 10:00 – 4:00 in the Building. Browse the
artists’ wares and learn how conservation groups are helping the environment.
♦ Sportsmen’s Flea Market from 10:00 – 4:00. Browse through our many vendors and find
everything you need to get started in fishing.
The following activities are scheduled to take place near the Hunting Area:
♦ Introduction to Archery from 10:00 – 3:30. For ages 10 and up. Try shooting our targets
with one of our bows. Instructors will help you learn and improve your archery skills.
The following activities are scheduled to take place in the Pond Area:
♦ Kids Fishing at the pond from 10:30 – 3:30. Kids 8-15 will get a chance to fish in the
Pequest Education Pond and try to catch one of our lunker trout! We supply all the equipment
and kids must register at the pond on the day of the event.
♦ Kiddie Trout Tank at the pond from 10:30 – 3:30. For those kids 7 and under, they can try
their hand at catching one of our trout in the “Kiddie Trout Tank”. All equipment is provided at
the tank.
♦ Historical Encampment at the pond from 10:00 – 4:00. Step back in time as you watch our
reenactors living in a time gone-by. Watch as they make clothing, cook or set up camp.

Please note that the rear entrance will be closed for this event. Use the main entrance located on Route 46.

More open house information at

Directions to Pequest

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Coyote Concerns

 There are no wolves in the wild in NJ (only in captivity) but coyotes are more common every year. And this is the time of the year you are more likely to see them.

I sometimes receive emails from residents of NJ who ask questions about wildlife. Occessionally, I can answer them, but sometimes I can only refer them to other sources at the NJDEP or private organizations.

I got an email this past week from Chris who was concerned that he might have spotted a wolf in his Mahwah, NJ backyard. It's a bit hard to see in his photos but they are most likely of a coyote. (Although he lives close to NY state and so...  see )

I have written here before about our state's coyotes and certainly someone with small children and pets outdoors has some legitimate concerns with coyotes being near their home.

Although attacks on humans are extremely rare in eastern states, as with any predatory animal they can occur and in suburban and urban areas, and coyotes have occasionally attacked small pets.

Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations under control.

Coyote sightings in NJ usually increase in the spring as they bear their  litters during April and May, and this is when encounters with humans is more likely to occur.

Females deliver between three and nine pups, and they are most likely to cross paths with humans (and their pets) as the adults forage for food for the pups in the spring and summer. They are far more interested in rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals. Of course, if we humans make garbage, pet food and our pets unattended, coyotes may be tempted to come closer to our homes. Like our Jersey black bears, they are very adaptable to and learning to be quite tolerant of human activities.

The coyote is a wild member of the dog family and is not threatened in New Jersey and has been spreading throughout the Northeast and across New Jersey.

Eastern coyotes differ from their western counterparts with a larger average size and various color phases, including blonde, red and black.

coyote photo via
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection recommends that residents
  • put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over to prevent bear and coyote foraging. 
  • reduce the protective cover for coyotes by clearing brush and dense weeds from around homes.
  • be more cautious about children and pets being on their own even in their backyards. 
  • in response to a coyote encounter, do not  run, because that initiates the "prey instinct" in the animal and the coyote will go into pursuit mode. Rather, act aggressively - "yelling, waving your arms, stamping your feet, or throwing stones” until it leaves.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Jersey’s Endangered Wildlife Fund Tax Check-Off

Though we hate to remind you that tax day is only a month away, we do really do want to remind you that you can help protect New Jersey's bald eagles and all other rare wildlife by supporting the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund when you file your state income tax this year and every year.

Simply look for Line 59 on your NJ 1040 income tax return, and check-off for wildlife. Or remind your tax preparer that you want to make a contribution.

Every dollar you donate goes directly to the DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP), enabling biologists to continue their work to restore, conserve and enhance New Jersey's populations of rare species. What's more, your contribution is matched with an equal amount of federal funding, further strengthening efforts to protect hundreds of imperiled species.

The Endangered and Nongame Species Program is responsible for protecting and managing nearly 500 wildlife species, including 73 species currently listed as endangered or threatened. The program is funded almost entirely by the state income tax check-off donations and through sales of the distinctive Conserve Wildlife License Plates.

For more than 35 years, ENSP biologists have been working to bring back from the brink of extinction a variety of rare species such as the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon and the osprey. Your contribution to the Endangered Wildlife Fund makes it possible for these scientists to prevent other birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish and even butterflies from being added to the state's list of endangered and threatened species.

Whether you receive a tax refund this year or you owe tax this year, you can help keep the wonder of rare wildlife alive for our children - and for theirs - by checking off for wildlife on your NJ 1040 tax return.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bobcats and Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey

The Endangered and Nongame Species Program is launching a new project called “Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey,” which maps critical habitat for bobcats and other species and identifies connecting corridors.

A Statewide Habitat Connectivity Plan will serve as a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation and will also highlight additional actions necessary to restore and maintain critical habitat linkages. The end products of this effort will consist of:  1) a statewide map depicting areas crucial for habitat connectivity, and  2) a menu of implementation actions, relating to each identified corridor that will provide guidance on how to secure, or restore each corridor. 

The state Department of Transportation is part of the study group, and could use information from the mapping to create new safe crossings where roads have become barriers, and make existing passage areas safer in high-mortality spots.

Data collected on bobcats is now being analyzed by researcher at Rutgers University, who will come up with a “conservative” population estimate and identify population trends over time. Those numbers will be used to assist with the recovery of New Jersey’s bobcats. In 1991, the bobcat was placed on the state’s endangered species list.

They’re pretty rare to see because they are hard to spot in the wild, but it appears that their numbers are increasing. That's a great comeback story since they had virtually vanished from New Jersey by the 1970s due to habitat loss. Restoration projects began then with wildlife officials bring bobcats trapped in Maine to the state from 1978 to 1982. Those 24 bobcats were released in sections of Warren, Sussex and Morris counties north of Interstate 80.

Bobcats are our only native cat. Although they may look like a housecat (especially when young), they can be twice the size of a domesticated housecat. Females generally weigh 18 to 25 pounds, while males can weigh up to 38 pounds. These predators mostly eat small mammals like rabbits, squirrels and mice, although they can take down small or sick deer and wild turkeys.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Follow Endangered NJ on Twitter

Even if you're not much of a social media follower,
you can follow us on Twitter at

You don't even have to sign up for an account (although you'll need one to be social with us!) to see our daily posts with links to additional information and updates on things endangered or just interesting in the environment and nature here in NJ and around the world.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Birds Threatened and Endangered in the NJ Meadowlands

  Endangered Peregrine Falcon under the Route 3 bridge staff photo by Michael Karas
Though some people from outside New Jersey may think of the Meadowlands as a swath of green by the Turnpike and other northern NJ highways, hopefully natives of our state are better informed.

The Meadowlands are home to a large variety of birds and the area and its inhabitants are generally experiencing a revival.

There are 20 endangered and 14 threatened bird species in New Jersey, two of which have also earned the endangered classification at the federal level. In the Meadowlands, at least 18 nesting birds are on New Jersey's watch list, according to Jim Wright, bird columnist, member of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and blogger at The Meadowlands Nature Blog

Nesting in the Meadowlands are 4 endangered species - Pied-billed Grebe, Peregrine Falcon, Least Tern and Northern Harrier - and 4 threatened species - Osprey, Savannah Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron.

And there are also 10 species of "special concern" - not yet threatened - that nest here: American Kestrel, Barn Owl, Brown Thrasher, Common Gallinule (moorhen), Common Nighthawk, Horned Lark, Least Bittern, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Spotted Sandpiper and Virginia Rail.

A yellow crowned night heron - threatened in NJ and appearing
in the Meadowlands. This one was spotted in Carlstadt.
Ospreys and Peregrine Falcons have been experiencing a comeback in the past few decades. There are 24 pairs of Peregrine Falcons nesting in the state, including in Jersey City and Newark. There are first-year falcons in the Meadowlands and other young falcons hunting there. Adults have nested on two bridges in the Hackensack River in recent years.

The Meadowlands is a good location to see the endangered Northern Harrier which can appear year-round but primarily in the winter.

The Meadowlands is also a temporary home for migrating birds, translating to about 280 species of birds spending at least part of the year in the area.

SOURCE: Birds fighting extinction here in Meadows

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How Many Salamanders?

Eastern Tiger Salamander (endangered in NJ)

Ecologist Raymond Semlitsch and his doctoral student Katie O’Donnell are researching part of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri for salamanders. They crawl along the ground, raking the leaf litter with their hands, looking under rocks and logs, and when they find  salamanders, they lift them gently from the dirt to be weighed and measured.

They are building a model of salamander populations and using the data from the sites they studied, they can estimate salamander populations in other parts of the woods.

How many salamanders are in the woods? The answer, according to the model, is between 1.88 and 2.65 billion salamanders. That’s within a district of the Mark Twain National Forest about 2,800 square kilometers in area, and those numbers 2-4 times higher than estimates made by other scientists in the 1970s.

Those earlier researchers, studying salamanders in the woods of New Hampshire, didn’t account for amphibians hiding underground. And more recent studies of other salamander species have found up to 10 times more salamanders than the 1970s research.

What about here in New Jersey?

NJDEP, Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ have enhanced a complex of 12 vernal pools in Cape May County to create habitat for state-endangered eastern tiger salamanders and other vernal pool breeding amphibians. The interconnecting pools allowed eastern tiger salamanders to return to vernal pools to breed in early winter.

In mid-December, eastern tiger salamander egg masses can be found in the pools and egg masses collected from other sites have also been introduced into these pools as supplements.

Every year,  volunteers on a wooded road in northwestern New Jersey spend some early spring nights looking for frogs and salamanders to count.

They wait for the amphibians to cross the road on their way from the wooded uplands where they winter to the marshy lowlands and vernal pools where they will do their spring mating

Wood frogs and blue-spotted salamanders are more common amphibians in northern New Jersey and not endangered.

The NJ’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife, along withe the NJ Audubon Society are partners on the Amphibian Crossing Survey Project. Relying again on volunteers to help monitor sites in Warren and Morris County, they identify additional crossings throughout the northern region of the state. (Due to limited resources, they are currently focusing efforts on northern New Jersey.)

It is estimated that one third of the world’s amphibians are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A Surfeit of Salamanders
NJ Online Field Guide for Reptiles and Amphibians

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jersey Owls

There are eighteen species of owls in North America and 8 of them can be found in the Garden State.

  1. Barn Owl
  2. Barred Owl 
  3. Eastern Screech Owl
  4. Northern Saw-whet Owl
  5. Short-eared Owl 
  6. Long-eared Owl
  7. Great horned Owl
  8. Snowy Owl

On New Jersey's endangered list is the Short-Eared Owl. The number of Short-eared Owls that overwinter in New Jersey varies from year to year. However, breeding Short-eared Owls are considered endangered. The species may no longer even nest in NJ, although at one time small numbers were known to do so.

They are considered to be a large owl, reaching a height of 16 inches /40 cm (Like other species of owls, the female is larger than the male).  They have small “ear” tufts (not actually ears) on a large, round head. Their underparts are heavily streaked and their face area has dark patches, with yellow eyes. 

You might see a Short-eared Owl in open habitats such as uncultivated fields, pastures, airports, and fresh and saltwater marshes. They are not a woodland species, but during the winter they will roost in trees.

On the state's threatened list are both the Long-Eared Owl and the Barred Owl.

Long-eared owl
The Long-eared owl is slender and about 12-15 inches.

It has distinctive long "ear" tufts similar to the Great Horned Owl but closer together. The facial disk is chestnut colored. The breast and belly are streaked and barred.

Long-eared Owls might be found in dense coniferous forests or mixed forests consisting of deciduous and evergreen trees. They roost communally with 2-20 birds living together. They hunt at night in nearby fields and meadows.

Like most owls, their preferred prey include voles and field mice, but bats, moles, rabbits and various species of birds are occasionally captured.

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is located statewide but the greatest concentrations are in the northern and southern parts of New Jersey (Sussex, Passaic, Morris and Burlington, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May counties) where wetland habitat helps them survive. Conversely, development pressures in counties like Bergen, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Hunterdon, Salem, Gloucester and Camden have reduced or eliminated the barred owl's habitat.

In addition to loss of habitat, barred owls can be killed by being hit by vehicles, electrocuted, poisoned. and by Great Horned Owls who prey on them and other owl species except for the Snowy Owl.

Fragmentation of forest habitat due to logging and rights-of-way for utilities has resulted in habitat that is more suitable for Great Horned Owls which puts predatory pressure on barred owls.

Its large size (20 inches tall - 25 cm), rounded head, lack of "ear" tufts, grayish-brown color with dark eyes and dark bars that run horizontal across its breast and vertically on its belly make Barred Owls easy to identify if you can find one. Females are similar in appearance but larger.

Barred Owls live in the deep forest and hide inside woodlands with a preference for coniferous or mixed coniferous and deciduous forests rather than strictly deciduous forests. Large tracts of woodlands are preferred to forests that have been highly fragmented. Within these dense stands of forest, proximity to water such as swamps, marshes, streams and lakes is preferred. At night they may be identified by their characteristic call of eight hoots that are in two groups of four: hoohoo-hoohoo followed by hoohoo-hoohoo-aw). This call has been analogized to sound like they are saying "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

The Barred Owl is a NON MIGRANT. Barred Owls (like Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech Owls) remain in New Jersey throughout the year. They hunt in the evening and at night. Barred Owls are highly opportunistic and eat a large variety of prey. However, research studies show that Barred Owls rely heavily on voles, mice and shrews.


A Great Horned Owl's gaze

Great Horned Owl

Barn owl

a Snowy Owl at Cape May via

Images: US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)