TRENTON, NJ — From monarch butterflies to blue whales, New Jersey is home to more than 3,700 wildlife species. In an effort to protect the most-endangered of those species, state environmental officials are updating a major plan that will guide wildlife conservation efforts over the next decade.
For the first time in 12 years, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is revising New Jersey’s Wildlife Action Plan, an assessment of the health of the state’s rare and declining wildlife species — the problems they face and actions that are needed to conserve them over the long term.
As part of that process, DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment of the plan, which will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine state eligibility for grant funding to conserve imperiled wildlife species, particularly those that are not traditionally hunted or fished.
"The State Wildlife Action Plan will guide DEP's work and that of New Jersey's very active conservation community in protecting our most vulnerable wildlife, ensuring that our great diversity of species can be enjoyed by future generations," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "We look forward to gathering valuable input from the public and conservation organizations across the state as we work together to develop the best plan possible."
While New Jersey's 2005 plan has helped sustain and enhance populations of at-risk species, the updated plan will continue to provide a guide for actions to protect species of greatest conservation need, according to the DEP.
"By focusing on the needs of species of concern, this plan will help the Division of Fish and Wildlife make important conservation decisions that can prevent species from becoming listed as threatened or endangered," said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty.
To make the plan more focused and to establish clear and reasonable implementation goals, the proposed revision identifies 107 focal species from a list of 656 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) that will be the target of conservation actions, such as habitat identification and management as well as research efforts.
The list includes:
- Bird species: American woodcock, northern harrier, piping plover, cerulean warbler and peregrine falcon.
- Fish species: brook trout, short-nose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, and iron-color shiner.
- Reptile and amphibian species: northern scarlet snake, bog turtle, New Jersey chorus frog and northern diamondback terrapin.
- Mammals: little brown bat, Indiana bat and Allegheny woodrat.
- Invertebrates: yellow lamp mussel, American bumble bee, and pink sallow moth.
Conservation actions have been developed to address the most serious threats to these species, such as habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and emerging diseases. Recommended actions include habitat protection and restoration, management of SGCN populations and targeted monitoring to measure results.
The public is encouraged to submit comments online by January 19. To view or download the draft State Wildlife Action Plan and submit comments, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/waphome.htm.
DEP will consider all comments before submitting the final plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In lieu of online submissions, mail written comments to:
Wildlife Action Plan Comments
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Fish and Wildlife
PO Box 420, MC 501-03
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
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