Protecting the endangered: PSE&G crews search for the golden-winged warbler

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OAK RIDGE -

PSE&G and environmental crews were out in Passaic County Wednesday in search of the elusive and endangered golden-winged warbler bird.

The group went out into Oak Ridge near some of the PSE&G transmission lines. The 1,500 miles of lines may not seem like areas where there would be a lot of wildlife. But officials say what the regular cutting crews do to keep trees away from the transmission lines create a unique habitat of grassy scrub that borders on the older forest.

PSE&G crew members say that they often see bats, birds, rattlesnakes, salamanders and turtles out and around the transmission lines.

Wednesday’s group, which consisted of PSE&G, New Jersey Audubon and the state DEP, were out looking specifically for the golden-winged warbler. There are only about 40 pairs left in New Jersey, with more than half of them living in nests along the power lines.

“So these rights of way provide pretty much a static habitat for them and it’s the stronghold for golden warblers right now,” says Sharon Petzinger, a biologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The hope was to capture one of the bird, record some data and put a tracker on it. Crews were able to locate a pair making a nest but were unable to catch it.

But the crews did collect data on other animals living in among the transmission lines. That data will be used to track all of the animals that live out there so that PSE&G crews can know the best time and places to cut trees and mow the grass around the lines.

Biologists say that the reason the golden-winged warbler population has declined is due to habitat loss across the world. They say that anyone who wants to do their part to help should consider buying organic shade-grown coffee to support the farms in Central America where the warbler spends the winter.

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