State officials say a bald eagle's nest and at least one egg were destroyed when a tree was cut down in early February.

According to Larry Hajna of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, state and federal authorities are investigating the destruction of the active nest. While Hajna couldn't release many details about the ongoing investigation, he did say the tree was located in the "Elmer-Daretown area" of rural Salem County on private property.

"It was an active nest, so there was one, possible two eggs that were pretty much smashed," Hajna said.

Hajna said as of now, investigators are still trying to determine who cut the tree down and why it was cut. Hajna said destroying the nest of a bald eagle is "very serious." He explained that it's very unlikely that someone could have cut down the tree without realizing that the nest was there.

"An eagle’s nest is very conspicuous. They build them at the very tops of trees. It’s the biggest nest you’ll see. This was a tree that didn’t have any foliage so it should have been obvious," Hajna said.

Hajna said bald eagles typically build nests - if they don't already have one - around January and early February and then mate and lay their eggs. He said the fact that the nest in this case was destroyed so early in the season is somewhat fortunate despite the negative aspect of the situation itself.

"So in this particular situation, the parents were not injured, so what typically happens is that the eagles will have another shot at building a new nest and mating," Hajna said.

According to NJ Advance Media, officials say a person who intentionally destroys a bald eagle's nest could face fines up to $5,000 and a year in prison. Hajna said the state can also "issue additional fines and seek restitution."

Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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