- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HOPATCONG, N.J. (AP) - The developer of a housing project on a New Jersey lake has voluntarily halted construction to allow a pair of nesting bald eagles to care for their two eaglets.

The developer, Atkins Companies, put a stop to work on the project in Hopatcong once the nest near Lake Hopatcong was discovered, Larry Hajna, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, told the New Jersey Herald (http://bit.ly/1T0C1Mb).

Atkins Companies, the federal government and the DEP came to an understanding earlier this year to make sure the birds wouldn’t be disturbed during the critical nesting time. The nesting and fledging period runs from about February and March through early August, Hajna said.

“When we were informed that there were chicks that had been hatched in the nest, we determined to not continue construction,” said Michael Gross, a representative from Atkins Companies. “After they fledge, we hope to start up again.”

The Mariner’s Pointe project has been in various stages of development since 2007 and includes several residential structures, a park and boat docks. Atkins Companies was issued a disturbance permit that will allow the developer to resume construction once the eaglets leave their nest.

Bald eagles are no longer listed as an endangered or threatened species, but they’re still afforded protections under the Golden and Bald Eagle Protection Act, Hajna said.

The state had only a single pair of bald eagles in the late 1980s, but now has 150 nesting pairs, which gave birth to about 200 chicks last year, Hajna said. The species’ reemergence was largely attributed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on DDT nearly 20 years ago, Hajna said.

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Information from: The New Jersey Herald (Newton, N.J.), http://www.njherald.com

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