News Department

JCP&L installs guards to protect bald eagles in Sussex County

Comprehensive protection system helps prevent the endangered species from resting or nesting on energized power equipment

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – To safeguard New Jersey’s bald eagle population, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has installed protective devices on electrical equipment in areas near bald eagle nests in Hamburg Borough and near Culver Lake in Frankford Township, both in Sussex County.

The protective system includes the use of guards that prevent birds from nesting on top of poles and crossarms and insulated caps that protect any birds that may contact electric equipment. Reflective tags have also been installed along power lines to increase visibility of the lines to birds in flight.

“As stewards of our environment, we are committed to protecting wildlife, especially endangered and threatened species like the bald eagle,” said Amy Ruszala, an environmental scientist and avian expert at FirstEnergy. “Taking these steps allows the avian population to thrive while enhancing service reliability for customers by reducing outages caused by birds contacting our equipment.”

FirstEnergy’s environmental team and utility personnel routinely inspect power equipment, like utility poles, substations and transmission towers, for bird nests. When a nest is located on or near electrical equipment, the company works with state and federal wildlife officials to relocate the nest if it poses an immediate threat.

Over the past five years, FirstEnergy and its electric companies have completed more than 100 projects to protect birds of prey, like eagles and ospreys. The work includes installing large, wooden nesting platforms or perch arms near electrical equipment where birds prefer to nest or temporarily rest, insulating power lines near perch or nest locations and adding large, bright visual markers on power lines to alert birds to the wires.

Additionally, FirstEnergy has implemented the use of drones to complete bird nest inspections and deployed a mobile app that allows utility personnel to report avian issues in real time. These ongoing efforts have helped utility personnel more efficiently identify and respond to bird activity along power lines to help prevent service disruptions and protect wildlife.

The New Jersey bald eagle population has soared in recent years, with nests located in all 21 New Jersey counties. According to the most recent NJ Department of Environmental Protection and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s annual report, 247 territorial bald eagle pairs were identified statewide in 2021. The population of egg-laying pairs has more than doubled in the past decade, reaching a new high of 222 pairs in 2021, with 296 young eaglets produced. In 1987, surveyors had located just a single active nesting pair of bald eagles in New Jersey.

Despite being removed from the federal list of endangered species in 2007, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife still lists the bald eagle as an endangered species during the breeding season and a threatened species during the non-breeding season.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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