New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region

Frequently Asked Questions about
Endangered Species in New Jersey

Endangered Species General Information:

Why is it important to conserve endangered species?

See the following links:

What does endangered mean? Threatened?

Section 3 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) defines an "endangered species" as "any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range," other than certain insect pests. The law defines a "threatened species" as "any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range."

Why do species become endangered?

The primary threat to the continued existance of most federally listed species found in New Jersey is loss or degradation of habitat. For example, of the 12 federally listed species under Service jurisdiction occurring in New Jersey, 10 live or feed in wetlands. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 39% of New Jersey's wetlands were lost between the 1780s and the 1980s. Wetland losses have slowed in recent years because of new efforts to conserve these areas. However, impacts from upland development still threaten many wetland habitats with increased sedimentation, hydrologic changes, and pollution. Other significant threats to listed species in New Jersey include collection, disturbance from vehicle or foot traffic, litter and pollution, and vegetational succession. The nature and severity of threats is different for each species; please see more specific information for particular listed species.

How many federally listed species are there in the U.S.? Worldwide?

Summary of Listed Species, updated daily (first link).

Where can I find the complete list of threatened and endangered species?

Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Plants

Where can I find detailed information about particular listed species?

Species Information for New Jersey
Information on all threatened and endangered wildlife and plants

What is a Recovery Plan? Where can I find the Recovery Plan for particular listed species?

A Recovery Plan is a planning document that outlines a strategy to prevent a species from becoming extinct. A Recovery Plan is prepared by the Service for each listed species, in cooperation with other agencies, organizations, and experts on the particular plant or animal. Recovery Plans include a full discussion of the species biology, an analysis of threats to the species' continued existence, and an outline, time line, and cost estimate of tasks necessary for the species' recovery. Most Recovery Plans are available online.

Who is responsible for listed marine species?

Implementation of the ESA with regard to marine species is handled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries (Fisheries) (previously known as National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Endangered Species Act (ESA):

What is the ESA?

Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (87 Stat. 884; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is the most comprehensive law ever enacted by a Nation for the preservation of endangered species. The law establishes that endangered and threatened animals and plants "are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people." For more information, see "The Endangered Species Act Overview."

What are the main provisions of the ESA?

  • Section 4 of the ESA directs the Secretary of Interior to publish a List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Plants, and provides criteria for adding and removing species from the List.
  • Section 6 authorizes cooperative agreements and funding for States to establish programs for conservation of threatened and endangered species.
  • Section 7 directs all federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to "utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of [the ESA] by carrying out programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species." Section 7 also directs federal agencies to consult with the Service in order to "insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by [a federal agency] is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical habitat]."
  • Section 8 provides for international cooperation for threatened and endangered species conservation, and implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), an international treaty.
  • Section 9 prohibits the import, export, possession, sale, delivery, and transportation of listed species. "Take" of listed species of wildlife is also prohibited, as is removal of listed plants from federal land. "Take" is defined as "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct."
  • Section 10 authorizes Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). Non-Federal property owners wishing to conduct activities on their land that might result in the incidental take of a listed species must first obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To obtain a permit, the applicant must develop a HCP, designed to offset any harmful effects the proposed activity might have on the species. The HCP process is intended to allow private development to proceed while promoting listed species conservation.
  • For more information, see "About Us | Overview."

Where can I read the complete ESA?

Endangered Species Act [PDF]

Where can I find federal regulations implementing the ESA?

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State-Listed Species:

Is there a State law in New Jersey to protect threatened and endangered species?

The New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act of 1973 (N.J.S.A. 23:2A et seq.) establishes a list of wildlife species designated by the State of New Jersey as threatened and endangered. The law prohibits taking, possessing, transporting, exporting, processing, selling, or shipping listed species. "Take" is defined by the law as harassing, hunting, capturing, or killing, or attempting to do so. A separate New Jersey State law, the Endangered Plant Species List Act, (N.J.S.A. 13:1B et seq.) "finds and declares that plant species have medicinal, genetic, ecological, educational and aesthetic value to the citizens of New Jersey; [and] that the perpetuation of many plant species native to New Jersey or the United States is in jeopardy," and establishes an official State list of endangered plants. New Jersey State laws are available online from the New Jersey State Legislature.

Which species are State-listed?

A list of State-listed wildlife species, and a list of wildlife species of State concern are available online from the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program. A list of State-listed (endangered) plant species and plant species of State concern is available online from the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program.

What is the State Landscape Project?

The Landscape Project is an ongoing effort by the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program to "protect New Jersey's biological diversity by maintaining and enhancing imperiled wildlife populations within healthy, functioning ecosystems." Protection of mapped habitats is reflected in New Jersey's Land Use Regulations. Please note the following:

  • Landscape Project maps do not include habitat for federally or State-listed plants. However, a grid map of rare plants and natural communities is available, produced by the New Jersery Natural Heritage Program.

  • Habitats mapped on the Landscape Project do not constitute Critical Habitat designated under the federal Endangered Species Act.

  • Presence or absence of habitat for federally listed species on the Landscape Project does not determine whether consultation or technical assistance with the NJFO is necessary under the federal Endangered Species Act. Please see the Consultation in New Jersey page for instructions on requesting consultation and technical assistance.

  • Landscape Project maps are not produced by the Service. Questions regarding the Landscape Project should be directed to the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

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Federally Listed Species in New Jersey

How many federally listed species are found in New Jersey?

Federally listed species found in New Jersey:

"Extirpated" species are not presently known to occur in New Jersey, but were found in the State historically.
"Extant" species are presently found in New Jersey.

  Endangered Threatened Total
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Jurisdiction*      
Extant Animals 3 5 8
Extant Plants 1 5 6
Extant Subtotal 4 10 14
Extirpated Animals 7 0 7
Extirpated Plants 0 0 0
Extirpated Subtotal 7 0 7
Total 11 8 21

*Administration of the ESA for marine species is handled by the NOAA Fisheries Service.

Which federally listed species are found in New Jersey?

Federally Listed Species in New Jersey [PDF]
Candidate species found in New Jersey [PDF]

Are any listed species found only in New Jersey?

New Jersey is home to the only known extant occurrences of Knieskern's beaked-rush. New Jersey is also considered the global stronghold for swamp pink, with 60% of known extant populations of the plant occurring in the State. New Jersey also has the most known occurrences of bog turtle of any State.

Have any species native to New Jersey become extinct?

Many species formerly found in New Jersey, including 5 federally listed species, are now extirpated (no longer found) in the State. Although extirpated from New Jersey, these species are still found in other States. Other species that were once found in New Jersey are now extinct, meaning there are none left anywhere. Some examples include the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and the heath hen (Tympanuchus cupido cupido); both became extinct in the early 20th century.

Have any previously listed species found in New Jersey recovered?

Formerly listed as endangered, the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in August 1999. The species will be monitored for 13 years to ensure that the species' numbers remain strong for two generations of birds. The peregrine falcon continues to be protected by State law and by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests except when specifically authorized by the Department of the Interior. For more information, see the Service's web site regarding the recovery and deslisting of the peregrine falcon.

Formerly listed as endangered throughout its U.S. and international range, the Eastern subspecies of the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis) was primarily threatened by environmental contaminants which caused eggshell thinning and other adverse effects. Decreasing effects of contaminants and increasing population levels led the Service to de-list the brown pelican on the Atlantic Coast (including New Jersey) and in Florida and Alabama in 1985. Brown pelicans are still listed as endangered in Gulf Coast and Pacific States and in Central and South America. Brown pelicans continue to be protected throughout their range by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus) was re-classified from endangered to threatened in 1995. In July 1999, the Service proposed delisting the bald eagle in the lower 48 States. Following delisting on August 8, 2007, the bald eagle is still be protected by New Jersey State law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. For consistency with these laws, the Service recommends protection of bald eagles consistent with the National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines. See the Northeast and Midwest Regional web sites for more information.

What are candidate species? Are any found in New Jersey?

"Candidate species" are species that appear to warrant addition to the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, but listing is currently precluded by higher priority actions. Although these species receive no substantive or procedural protection under the ESA, the Service encourages federal agencies and other planners to give consideration to these species in the environmental planning process. When possible, the Service works with other agencies, organizations, and private landholders to develop Candidate Conservation Agreements. Through these agreements, candidate species can be protected, avoiding the need to list them as threatened or endangered. One candidate species is found in New Jersey: Hirst Brothers' panic grass (Dichanthelium hirstii). Also see the Service's list of candidate species and candidate conservation web page.

What are proposed species? Are any found in New Jersey?

A "proposed species" is a plant or animal that has been officially proposed in the Federal Register for addition to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, but has not yet been officially added to the List. The Service must propose a species for listing before actually listing it, to allow for a public comment period. Proposed species receive many of the same protections as threatened and endangered species under the ESA. There are currently no species proposed for listing that occur in New Jersey. See the Service's list of proposed species.

What is critical habitat? Is any found in New Jersey?

"Critical habitat" refers to specific geographic areas essential to the conservation of a listed species, which may require special management considerations or protection. Critical habitat for a particular species is designated by federal regulation at the time a species is added to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. If the Service determines that designation of critical habitat would not be prudent for a particular species, it may elect not to designate critical habitat. For example, designation of critical habitat may not be prudent for a species that is threatened by illegal collection. There is no designated critical habitat in New Jersey. See additional information about Critical Habitat, and a Critical Habitat Fact Sheet.

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Endangered Species and You:

How do I know if I have listed species on my property?
What should I do if the State Landscape Project maps show federally listed species habitat on my property?
How do I know if my proposed project will adversely affect a listed species?
How do I request an endangered species (Section 7) review?

Please review the following information before contacting the New Jersey Field Office:

If the proposed project may affect estuarine or marine environments or species, then project review should also be requested from the NOAA Fisheries Service at the following address:

Endangered Species Coordinator
NOAA Fisheries Service
Protected Resources Division
Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930-2276
(978) 281-9328

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program maintains the most up-to-date information on federal candidate species and State-listed species in New Jersey. To avoid adverse impacts to these species, the Service recommends that planners request a species review from the Natural Heritage Program. The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program may be reached at the following address:

New Jersey Natural Heritage Program
Division of Parks and Forestry
P.O. Box 404
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
(609) 984-0097

Additionally, information on New Jersey's State-listed wildlife species may be obtained from the following office:

Endangered and Nongame Species Program
Division of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 400
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
(609) 292-9400

The New Jersey Division of Land Use Regulation reviews proposed projects for impacts to federally and State-listed species as part of the State permitting process.

New Jersey Division of Land Use Regulation
501 E. State Street, Second Floor
P.O. Box 439
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0439
(609) 777-0454 (Freshwater Wetland and Highlands)
(609) 984-0162 (Waterfront Development, Coastal, and Stream Encroachment)

If information from any of the aforementioned sources reveals the presence of any federal candidate species within a project area, the Service should be contacted to ensure that these species are not adversely affected by project activities.

For properties or projects not located in New Jersey, contact the appropriate Ecological Services Field Office.

What if I want to develop my property and it contains a listed species?

Through technical assistance or the consultation process pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA, the Service will provide assistance to determine if project implementation will adversely affect a listed species, and will make recommendations to reduce adverse impacts. Section 7 consultations in New Jersey have been consistently effective in assisting federal agencies in developing projects that avoid harm to listed species and help maintain a healthy environment. For example, from 1999 through 2005, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s New Jersey Field Office conducted 9,920 Section 7 consultations. The planning efforts involved with those consultations resulted in some projects being modified to be more environmentally responsive, but the Endangered Species Act did not stop one project. Maintaining a healthy environment and protecting declining species populations should not be equated with stopping development or creating large-scale job loss.

I think I have a listed species on my property-- what can I do to protect it?

Contact the New Jersey Field Office (see contact information at the bottom of this page). We will help you determine if you have a listed species on your property. If a threatened or endangered species is present, we will make conservation recommendations to help you protect the species. Some landowners decide to enter into a voluntary conservation agreement. The Service provides ongoing technical assistance to these landowners, and recognizes their commitment to natural resources stewardship with the presentation of a plaque. Most land in New Jersey is privately owned. Voluntary conservation efforts by New Jersey's residents are a critical component in the conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species.

Why are agencies managing foxes and other predators in my coastal community?

See Predator Management Frequently Asked Questions [PDF].

What can I do to help conserve endangered species?

See What You Can Do.

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Other Sources of Information

Where can I find educational resources for kids and teachers?

See What You Can Do.

Where can I find non-governmental organizations involved in endangered species conservation in New Jersey?

Note: This is only a partial list of the many web directories of non-governmental environmental organizations. Links to non-Service web sites are provided for informational purposes only and do not imply any endorsement of the opinions or ideas expressed therein, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. Please see the Service disclaimer.

New Jersey Audubon Society
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
National Wildlife Federation
Trust for Public Land

Still have questions?

Visit the Service's Endangered Species Home Page and Endangered Species FAQ.

For more general questions, try the Service FAQ.

If you still need additional information, contact the New Jersey Field Office.

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Last updated: February 19, 2019
New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region Ecological Services
Northeast Region Home

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