NJ Turkey Vulture Hit With Arrow Prompts Eagle Concerns

Abuse fears come as bald eagle population rebounds.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bald eagles are the pride and joy of the United States, but one town in New Jersey says a rowing club is a threat to a bald eagle and its nest. And environmentalists are even more concerned after spotting a turkey vulture in the area with an arrow piercing its wing. Brian Thompson has the story.

    A turkey vulture flying over the Hudson River with an arrow piercing its wing has sparked the fears of environmentalists who are closely monitoring the comeback of the American bald eagle in the same skies.

    Bird watcher Karl Soehnlein told NBC New York that the injured bird has been flying over a section of the Palisade Interstate Park near the New Jersey/New York state line for the past two and a half weeks, but that he did not know who shot it or why.

    But it is that kind of animal abuse that has wildlife advocates worried for the rebounding bald eagle population.

    "How much pressure can they take before they decide this is not the right place to live?" asked Gil Hawkins, a leading North Jersey environmentalist.

    Hawkins is watching over a new nesting pair of eagles sitting on three eggs overlooking the  Hudson across from Westchester County, as well as a pair of eaglets on Overpeck Lake in Ridgefield Park that have already hatched.

    It is on Overpeck Lake that environmentalists are upset with a new neighbor to the eagles -- a storage yard and launching dock for the New York Rowing Association.

    Thomas Curry, the executive director of the club, says his volunteers have cleaned up tons of debris from the 2-acre donated site, and are sensitive to the nearby eagles' nest.

    Curry said the club is already a good neighbor to the eagles, but on Thursday a zoning official from the town of Ridgefield tried to serve him with a summons for not getting the proper permit to develop the site, according to Mayor Anthony Suarez.

    And according to a source in the state DEP, a Notice of Violation of the Coastal Zone Management Act could be issued for allegedly building the dock without a permit as early as next week.

    Curry said he hopes a meeting with DEP officials next week will resolve that issue.

    But between concern for the eagles, and evidence of abuse like the turkey vulture flying around with an arrow in its wing, environmentalists say buffer zones for wildlife are important.

    "You take it away and people start thinking again, 'it's not worth saving,'" said Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan.

    Follow Brian Thompson on twitter @brian4NY