The peregrine falcon comeback in New Jersey continues to be a success story, thanks to a combination of species resilience and help from environmentalists.

David Wheeler, executive director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, said there were 78 young falcons in 2019 compared to 75 the previous year.

"Remarkable when you factor in that there were no peregrine falcons east of the Mississippi river just a few decades ago," he noted.

Since the early 1980s, peregrine falcons have been recovering at a slow but steady pace in New Jersey.

The birds are facile at finding suitable nests amid New Jersey's dense human population.

"They've adapted to be able to nest very successfully on bridges and skyscrapers and other high vantage points that are man-made," Wheeler said.

Wheeler says the elimination of the pesticide DDT from the food chain was a big help in bringing back the population.

"And at the same time, the work of our biologists and scientists from the state and all the volunteers that support their work have managed to continue strengthening the nesting spots chosen by falcons by putting in nest boxes that help protect them a from the elements," he added.

The peregrine is the fastest creature on earth, reaching speeds of 200 mph diving for prey such as pigeons and small birds.

"It's pretty incredible that we have the fastest animal on earth right here in New Jersey, and not just in New Jersey, but flying above many of our our major cities in Newark and Elizabeth, in Jersey City to Trenton and Atlantic City," Wheeler said.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5