Your Perfect Instagram Shot Might End Up Killing A Snowy Owl

As snowy owls begin to migrate south from the Arctic this winter, an Ohio wildlife rehabilitator is warning photographers that they shouldn’t get too close in an attempt to get the perfect shot.

“The wild animal doesn’t know you just want to see it,” Heather Tuttle, manager at Back to the Wild in Castalia, Ohio, told The Huffington Post. “all they see is this large predatory animal that’s getting too close for comfort.”

Pursuing a wild animal for a photo op is never a good idea, Tuttle said, but it poses a particular danger for snowy owls that have just migrated from the Arctic tundra.

Because the birds have just completed a long flight, she said, many are short on energy. If a person frightens the bird away, the animal may spend all of its remaining energy fleeing, having little left for necessary hunting.

“We get them in and they’re just starved almost completely,” Tuttle said.

While most snowy owls remain in the Arctic year-round, occasionally some owls will head south during the winter in what’s known as an “irruption.” But there’s no consistent way to predict how many owls may head south in a given year, according to Andrew Farnsworth, Cornell Lab of Ornithology research associate and project leader for migration forecaster BirdCast.

“In the past, there has been some ability to suggest which years might be big irruptions by looking at the timing of previous years’ irruptions and considering the rodent populations and breeding success of the species,” Farnsworth told HuffPost in an email.

This year, Farnsworth said, the Midwest is seeing particularly high snowy owl numbers, though there have also been news reports of the birds in the Northeast.

But he explained there are numerous factors that influence the —> Read More