New Jersey Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Under the leadership of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, partner conservation agencies and stakeholder groups from across the state collaborated in the creation of our Wildlife Action Plan, which is a blueprint for statewide protection of wildlife with special conservation needs.

The plan is an ecosystem-based management strategy that focuses heavily on habitat and species protection, management and restoration. The Wildlife Action Plan embodies the collective judgment of the state’s conservation professionals regarding which species should receive special attention and what actions should be taken. It identifies tasks for nearly every agency and stakeholder group that has some influence over land use and wildlife habitats.

Wildlife Highlights

New Jersey’s inland forests are home to resident bobcats, barred owls and timber rattlesnakes, and provide essential stopover habitat for most of the eastern U.S. migratory population of songbirds and raptors. At the same time, the state’s Delaware Bay and Atlantic coastal habitats are home to bald eagles, northern harriers, black rails and piping plovers and are critical to millions of migratory raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, butterflies, dragonflies and fishes.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in New Jersey

New Jersey’s Action Plan identifies statewide as well as specific regional threats. The primary threats to wildlife include habitat fragmentation, invasive species and contaminants.

Development Pressure

Suburban sprawl and increased housing and road development break up large critical habitats into smaller patches, which do not provide suitable habitat for many of the state’s rare species. This habitat fragmentation can be especially harmful to interior forest species that need large habitats, such as bobcats, timber rattlesnakes and red-shouldered hawks, as well as to grassland species such as the grasshopper and vesper sparrows.

Invasive Species

Invasive species include native and exotic terrestrial and aquatic animals, plants, invertebrates and pathogens that cause significant impacts and permanent loss of ecosystems. The cost of restoring habitat destroyed by invasive species can be prohibitive and requires persistent and long-term management.

Pollution

Contaminants include point and non-point source pollution and oil spills. Oil spills threaten freshwater and salt-marsh ecosystems and the wildlife that rely on them, while contaminants from point and non-point sources degrade habitat and cause developmental and behavioral abnormalities and reproductive failure in wildlife.

Working Together for New Jersey’s Wildlife

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) worked internally to create a draft Wildlife Action Plan to be used as guidance. Leaders representing the constituencies of various conservation organizations including NJ Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy-NJ Chapter, and the NJ Conservation Foundation then reviewed the draft.

NJDEP then co-hosted a Wildlife Summit with NJ Future where more than 150 attendees from numerous organizations actively participated in discussions focused on nine key topics: municipal land use planning, state and regional land use planning, land use regulation, landowner incentive program, public and private acquisition, infrastructure, invasive and overabundant species management, habitat restoration and management, and public land management.  Participants included state and Federal agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NJ Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges throughout the state, the governor’s office, the NJ Department of Transportation, the NJ Forest Service, and the NJ Office of Smart Growth. In addition, a wide range of conservation organizations, watershed associations, sportsmen’s groups and regional planning councils participated in the Summit. Comments were submitted during the Summit and via a website comment form after the Summit.

The final draft was then posted on the DFW’s website. The NJDEP continues to receive public comment for consideration and incorporation into the plan.

 

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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