New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife has started an effort to identify and investigate threatened and potentially endangered water and land bird species.

State DEP spokesman Larry Hajna says officials are getting help in identifying and investigating the type of birds that are most at-risk.

"We have enlisted the help of academics, non-governmental organizations and environmental groups, biological consultants and other experts who can all provide valuable insights," he said.

Hajna said the review will focus on birds that may have some concerns associated with them.

"They may already be listed as threatened or endangered or a species of concern, or there is scientific information that is available that has not yet resulted in any official classification, but could, and raises some red flags as to needing to do more research and get more — both scientific and anecdotal information about their populations and their habitats," Hajna said.

There are hundreds of birds species in the state, both that pass through and that live here. Hajna said about 170 will be evaluated, and the group will make recommendations to the Endangered and Non-game Species Council.

"These are our future. These species are our future," he said.

He says the mission of this group members will be to meet for a number of months, and basically nominate birds to be evaluated further.

Hajna said of the timeframe for completing this study, "It is not open-ended but it takes time."

He says it is essentially a round-robin process in the beginning, whereby these experts will be developing and discussing what they are observing for about six months. Then it will go through the more formalized process of getting the birds identified and making recommendations. Then it will go through a rule-making process.

"For all intents and purposes, this is a longer-term effort" that could last from 18 months to two years, he said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.