OAK HARBOR, Ohio (AP) - A survey of bald eagles in Ohio has found a record number spending the winter in the state.
Wildlife officials spotted 259 bald eagles, surpassing last year's record of 204, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife said.
Mild weather probably contributed to the increase because young eagles didn't migrate as much this year, Melissa Hathaway, spokeswoman for the wildlife division, said Friday.
Observers found eagles in a record 44 counties during the two-week survey.
The greatest numbers were found in counties along western Lake Erie. There were 53 eagles counted in Ottawa and Sandusky counties.
Only six bald eagles were observed statewide during the first winter survey in 1979, the year the wildlife division began the bald eagle restoration program.
Bald eagle numbers declined dramatically nationwide during the 1960s and 1970s from habitat loss and the effects of toxic chemicals in the environment.
Eagle numbers gradually rebounded after a ban on pesticides in 1972, increased protection, wildlife management efforts and wetland restoration projects.