Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Falcon WebCam Kicks Off New Season from Roof of Jersey City Skyscraper

The Jersey City FalconCam – a popular webcam that captures the breeding, nesting, feeding and flight of a family of endangered Peregrine Falcons living on a Jersey City skyscraper – goes live this week for its 14th season of daily live webfeeds. For the first time, the FalconCam will be operated by the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) rather than the New Jersey State Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“We are so excited to relaunch this unique and inspirational FalconCam, especially for the thousands of devoted falcon lovers who thrill to their every move on this real New Jersey ‘reality show,’” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “For New Jerseyans to be able to experience the fastest animal on earth from their own computer screens is so rewarding because it connects us with the nature all around us, even in our most densely populated cities.”

After state funding could no longer cover the webcam, CWF assumed the responsibility for managing the FalconCam. CWF is relying on corporate and individual donations to fund the new camera, related equipment, and other costs, which combine to total $10,000 in expenses.

CWF biologist Ben Wurst installed the new equipment last week, adding new components that will give the viewer an even more “inside look at the falcons’ daily lives.

The FalconCam viewer experience will now utilize:

• a digital outdoor high resolution PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera that offers a scenic view of the nestbox, roof, and the New York City skyline
• a small “pinhole” camera was installed inside the nestbox that offers an eye level perspective of the falcons
• and a microphone inside the nestbox that will broadcast the sounds of the falcons and their high-rise city environment.

“In this digital age, the use of a webcam is a key component in engaging the public in wildlife conservation,” said Wurst. “To be able to share this with thousands of viewers is a truly magnificent thing, and I am very grateful for all of the contributions that have been made to support this program!”

In January, CWF ran a series of educational blog posts to help raise awareness for the state endangered peregrine falcons, and to raise funding for the new Falcon Cam. CWF also offers viewers the chance to join our free High Fliers Club, which offers members a chance to attend a falcon banding with biologists at this nest site in the summer of 2014.

Since 2000, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the roof of 101 Hudson Street in Jersey City. A webcam was installed inside the nestbox on the roof in 2001 to share the falcons’ annual life cycle with countless wildlife enthusiasts. Over the years the cam showed the ups and downs of the nesting pair during their nesting season from April to July. CWF also developed an educational curriculum, “Days of the Peregrine,” to help educate future generations about conserving endangered species, like the peregrine falcon.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) has worked to protect at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey and beyond for two decades. CWF utilizes science, technology, habitat restoration, education, communications, and volunteer stewardship to save imperiled wildlife from our state before they disappear forever.

Learn more at

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NJ Has More Cherry Blossoms Than Washington DC

Looking for some Spring season this weekend?

Washington D.C is famous for the thousands of cherry trees sent there as a gift from Japan more than a hundred years ago, but did you know that Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey has more cherry trees than Washington D.C.?

Every spring, residents and visitors can see the largest cherry blossom collection in the United States there.

Branch Brook Park, which runs through Belleville and Newark, has more than 2,700 Japanese cherry blossom trees that burst into full bloom during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that features various events for visitors of all ages.

Branch Brook Park is historically unique for being the first county park in the United States opened to the public. It was designed by the famed landscape architectural firm of Olmsted Brothers, a successor to Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cherry Blossom Time Signals Spring in NJ

From April 5-13, Branch Brook Park in Newark will again host its spring festival under pink petals to celebrate the Essex County Park System and its beloved collection of cherry trees.

The week’s events include the Cherry Blossom 10K run on April 6, the children’s Fun Run/Walk on April 12 and special trolley tours throughout the park.

The celebration culminates on April 13 with Bloomfest, a free outdoor family-fun day from 11 am to 5 pm, including live music, food vendors, children’s activities, a crafter’s marketplace and Japanese cultural demonstrations.

Essex County Parks festival information
Branch Brook Park website
Branch Brook Park Alliance


By Car
You may use the intersection of “Clifton Avenue and Seventh Avenue” for Internet mapping or GPS.

From New Jersey: Take Route 280 East to First Street/Exit 13. Turn left onto First Street. Turn right onto Orange Street. Turn left onto Clifton Avenue. Park will be on the left.

From New York: George Washington Bridge or Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey Turnpike South. Take Exit 15W for Route 280 West. Take Exit 14. Turn right onto Clifton Avenue. Follow above directions.

View Larger Map or get Driving Directions via Google Maps

By Train/Subway
Take NJ Transit or PATH Trains to Newark Penn Station. Board the Newark Light Rail toward either Branch Brook Park or Grove Street. For the Southern and Middle Divisions, exit at Park Avenue. Exit at Bloomfield Avenue to reach the Northern and Middle Divisions; the Northern Division is also accessible from the Davenport Avenue stop. The Branch Brook Park stop provides access to the Extension.

By Bus

A variety of bus routes provides services to Branch Brook Park. These include NJ Transit's bus lines #11. #27, #28, #29, #41, #72, #74, #90, #92, #93, #99 and #108. For schedule information, call 1-800-772-22221-800-772-2222 or visit

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fish Disease Hits Pequest Trout Hatchery

Raceway for fish at Pequest

Due to the re-occurrence of a fish disease that has affected a section of the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Warren County, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife announced  it is euthanizing a portion of its brook trout population that was scheduled to be stocked this spring and is taking other steps to protect the overall integrity of the facility.

This action is consistent with the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Health Policy, which was approved last week by the State Fish and Game Council following a public comment period and two public hearings. The plan states that fish found positive of pathogens, such as furunculosis, will not be stocked in state waters.

Furunculosis, a fatal disease caused by a bacterium known as Aeromonas salmonicida, mostly affects cold water species of fish such as trout. Laboratory tests last weekend confirmed the presence of the disease in brook trout in an upper portion of the concrete raceway system used to raise trout for stocking of New Jersey’s waterways.

It is important to note that no human health risks are associated with this bacteriumand that it is not transmissible to humans or other animal species.

Despite the loss of the large number of brook trout, the Division still will release healthy trout in state waters in time for the Opening Day of Trout Season scheduled for April 5, at 8 a.m. None of the trout being stocked this spring have the disease. Some may have been exposed to the bacterium that causes furunculosis but were effectively treated. Others that will be stocked have tested negative.

brook trout - NJDEP

The 114,000 trout to be euthanized are a portion of the more than 600,000 trout the Pequest Hatchery raises every year. The fish are being humanely euthanized by introducing carbon dioxide into the water.

Rainbow trout appear to be resistant to the disease, so the hatchery is increasing production of these species for stocking in future years. Brown and brook trout tend to be more susceptible and these fish will be vaccinated to provide protection against the disease. The Division also is considering acquiring brown and brook trout that have been bred for resistance to furunculosis.

The 31-year-old Pequest Fish Hatchery had its first outbreak of furunculosis last fall, likely transferred into the hatchery by birds. Osprey feeding on infected fish in the wild may have spread the bacteria through contact when feeding on fish in the affected pool at the hatchery. As a result, some 25,000 trout were euthanized last fall.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife utilizes robust measures to protect raceways at Pequest from bird infiltration, including wire deterrents strung over the raceways and air cannon. The division is continuing to investigate other options, including enclosing the raceways under fabric domes or barn-like structures. It also is exploring installation of extra wells to allow each raceway to have its own unique water supply for each group of fish.

For the short term, the affected areas of the hatchery will be drained, dried, steam cleaned, and disinfected before the next round of fish are introduced back into the raceway.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Opening Day for Trails is March 29

It's not that hiking and walking trails have been "closed" for winter, but now that the snow and ice have melted, it's time to get back into more serious outdoors. Green shoots, a few flowers, birds and bees are reappearing.

March 29—the last Saturday in March—is Opening Day for Trails and a good weekend to start the season with a leisurely walk, bike ride or hike along your local trails.

A TrailLink search on New Jersey turns up lots of possibilities, and we have posted plenty of times on hiking and on trails in our state.

Hike New Jersey is a great online guide to hiking trails, local parks, and other outdoor activities in the Garden State. From simple park walks to short, loop hikes that bring you back to where you started, there is something to fit your time and ability.

I grew up exploring places like Eagle Rock Reservation and South Mountain Reservation and I still uncover new sites in these pockets of green.South Mountain Reservation in Essex County is a 2000+ acre park that borders Millburn, South Orange and Maplewood. It follows the ridge of the lower Watchung Mountain range.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Alaska requests Endangered Species Act delisting for humpback whales

The state of Alaska has requested delisting (removing) humpback whales from the Endangered Species Act, according to a story from the Alaska Dispatch.

Humpback whales, once nearly wiped out in the North Pacific by commercial hunters, are now plentiful enigh in the Alaska-to-Hawaii migration corridor that they should be removed from the Endangered Species Act list, says the state of Alaska in a petition to federal officials.

he North Pacific humpback population was down to about 1,000 in 1966, the year that commercial whaling stopped. Now the population is 21,800, even more than the estimated 15,000 that swam the North Pacific about a century ago, before the peak of the commercial hunt, Fish and Game officials said.

Commercial whaling was the big threat to humpback whales, and now the population has reaped the benefits from the hunt's end, said Doug Vincent-Lang, director of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation.

“Since whaling was restricted or regulated, it has rebounded well,” he said.

If old threats from commercial whaling are gone, some new threats to humpbacks have emerged and should be considered by NOAA in its delisting deliberations, one environmental group has argued.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in comments sent to NOAA in October, said new threats have emerged in the form of ocean acidification -- which could affect the krill and other crustaceans that make up the whales’ diet -- and climate change. There are also new threats from ambient noise in the ocean, which can drown out the calls the whales use to communicate with each other, as well as continuing problems of pollution, ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, the center said.
A wintering right whale and its calf off Florida.  Photo:  NOAA via

The six species of whale which occur off New Jerssy's coast are listed on both the state and federal endangered species lists.

Sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus
Fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus
Sei whale, Balaenoptera physalusborealis
Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
North Atlantic northern right whale (or Black right whale) Eubalaena glacialis

They are managed by the International Whaling Commission. In 1966, the International Whaling Commission prohibited commercial whaling of humpbacks due to the decline of the species. It was listed by the federal government as endangered in 1970 and, as a result of that federal status, was automatically added to the New Jersey endangered species list following enactment of the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act in 1973. Humpbacks are provided with additional protection with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tour de Open Space April 27

Tour de Open Space
Sunday, April 27
 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Prallsville Mills
Stockton, Hunterdon County

Ride some of New Jersey's prettiest roads, bordering preserved farms, natural areas and historic sites along the Wickecheoke Creek.

Starting at the historic Prallsville Mills on Route 29 in Stockton, the Tour de Open Space will offer two 35-mile routes; a rolling ride and a more challenging hilly ride.

The cost is $45 per person before April 15.  Registrants can also opt to become New Jersey Conservation Foundation members for an additional $15.

The event will be held rain or shine. Participants must supply their own bicycles, and helmets are mandatory! The fee includes a delicious, locally sourced lunch from the MOO truck at the finish and Tour de Open Space water bottles.  The rest stop will provide water, snacks, and rest rooms. 

Registration is limited to 300 people - register online

Monday, March 17, 2014

Endangered NJ - Year 6

Spring always reminds me that another year has passed for Endangered New Jersey. I started posting in February 2009 and we are in our sixth year. With almost 700 posts, we get a fair number of visitors (about 157,000 so far) and hopefully they find out more about our state.

When I started it was partially because I have volunteered in the state's Wildlife Conservation Corps, Speakers Bureau for a few decades, especially for things related to threatened and endangered species. Giving talks to groups made me aware of how many people in NJ don't know about what we have here and what we might lose in our natural world.

Of course, I also am happy that this site gets lots of visitors from outside NJ and I hope it has some positive impact on our state's image which too often gets bashed by the national media.

This past year, the most popular posts (old and new) have been:
Our visitors come primarily from this top 10 list of countries (in order):
  1. United States
  2. Russia
  3. Germany
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Canada
  6. France
  7. Ukraine
  8. Poland
  9. China
  10. India
Thanks for taking a look at the site.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

NJDEP Survey on Deer

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is conducting a survey on NJ residents' opinions on living with white-tailed deer.

The purpose of this survey is to assess the viewpoint of the general public, with an emphasis on NJ residents living in suburban/urban areas. The results of this on-going data collection will aid the Division by suggesting areas of the state where limited (or no) deer management is currently taking place. Such areas will be targeted for educational and outreach programs on deer.

For more information and to take the Living With Deer in New Jersey Survey,
visit on the Division's website.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Protect the Palisades

I only became aware this week that New Jersey is celebrating its 350th anniversary. That's pretty good, considering the United States is only 238 years old. But that doesn't seem like much if you consider that the now endangered Palisades cliffs over the Hudson River are 200 million years old.

An update from Michele Byers at alerted me to the Protect the Palisades website.

The issue is that LG Electronics wants to build a 143-foot office tower that would rise high above the tree line, more than four times the height of existing buildings next to Palisades Interstate Park.

What continues to amaze people about the Palisades is that the view from the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge has remained unchanged over centuries. Pretty amazing for this most densely populated state in the nation that gets plenty of abuse for it.

It's certainly not the first threat to the Palisades. In the early 1900s, it was threatened by rock quarrying. Citizens fought then for preservation and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission was created. Before we had land conservancy groups very visible, prominent families of the day bought lands along the cliffs and donated them for conservation. Zoning for towns north of the GW Bridge wrote height restrictions limiting building to 35 feet so that the tree line of Palisades Interstate Park was maintained.

The National Park Service supports the low-rise alternative continuing and reminds us that the Palisades have the rare distinction of being both a "National Natural Landmark" and a "National Historic Landmark."

But in 2012, Englewood Cliffs granted a variance allowing the LG office tower, and opening up a larger area for more high-rise development. (The NJ Federation of Women's Clubs sued to stop the project, along with Scenic Hudson and the NY-NJ Trail Conference and it is a case that's still before the courts.)

Hopefully, the NPS and concerned citizens can protect our vista in the same way that the Grand Canyon, Yellowstons and Yosemite National Park are protected.

In a Star-Ledger editorial last summer:
LG spokesman John Taylor said the company has not ruled out a redesign, although it would be costly. Opponents of the current design, such as Michele Byers of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said if the company lowers the building, they’ll get behind the project to expedite it and minimize costs. Taking the building down to a lower height would ensure the preservation of the Palisades and earn priceless goodwill for the company.

PROTECT THE PALISADES asks you to join in at 1pm on Saturday, March 8th around New Jersey and in NYC as people stand up and show LG how strong the opposition to their plan to build a tower on the Hudson River Palisades really is! Spread the word and sign up new supporters.

You can also follow Protect the Palisades on Facebook for updates.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Oregon Chub Is The First Fish Ever Taken Off The Endangered Species List

The Oregon Chub has the distiction of being the first fish to be taken off the Endangered Species List. This tiny minnow that lives only in Oregon backwaters is the first fish ever taken off U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because it is no longer threatened with extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that the Oregon chub has recovered after 21 years of being on the Endangered Species list. The agency will monitor the fish for nine years to make sure populations continue to grow.

"We’re not saying it won’t need management," said Paul Henson, Oregon director of Fish and Wildlife. "But they can leave the hospital and get out to be an outpatient."

Read more from The Associated Press