COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Wildlife officials say snowy owls are showing up in increasing numbers in Ohio, likely moving south from their Arctic tundra homes in search of prey.
Ohio Division of Wildlife naturalist Jim McCormac tells The Columbus Dispatch a few snowy owls are spotted each year in the state, with the number of sightings so far this year at 12 to 15.
McCormac says the increase may be linked to population growth fostered by the periodic population increase of the owls' primary food source, lemmings.
In Ohio, most snowy owls settle in near Lake Erie, but they have also made appearances around Columbus and other areas.
Volunteer naturalist Nina Harfmann of Warren County says she saw her first snowy owl in Hardin County last month, and it was "absolutely beautiful."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)