- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

CAPE MAY, N.J. (AP) - Drone test flights in southern New Jersey are delayed in order to shield protected migratory birds.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology was set to begin testing drones at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May in July. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service postponed the testing until November.

NJIT professor Michael Chumer told The Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/XA4uk2 ) officials blocked the flights to protect piping plovers and red knots that migrate to New Jersey coastal areas during the summer.

“Fish and Wildlife thought that the testing may be a little too close to the piping plover and red knot, both threatened species, so they imposed seasonal restrictions,” Chumer said.

Red knots arrive at the Delaware Bay each spring during their annual migration from South America and feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs as they fly toward their arctic breeding grounds. Cape May County’s beaches are a popular summer nesting site for piping plovers.

The birds are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and New Jersey law.

NJIT has permission to start drone tests at the Coast Guard center between Nov. 1 and March 15. The school will be permitted to fly drones from the Coast Guard base as far as 14½ nautical miles over the ocean.

The college is working to develop drone technology for communications during storms or other catastrophic events.

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Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com