Ice shelter removal: There’s no shelter from vanishing ice

Even though two recent incidents in which four people went through the ice on Minnesota lakes had  nothing really to do with ice shelters, the incidents should have those with shelters still on northern Minnesota lakes seriously thinking about removing them now, even though the removal deadline is still about a week-and-a-half out.

That’s the message the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was sending out Thursday.

After an ice angler went through the ice on Moody Lake in Chisago County on Sunday, a passerby also went in trying to help, followed by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer. A second incident that same day loosely involved an ice-fishing shelter — a sheriff’s deputy fell through the ice and into waist-deep water in Gray’s Bay of Lake Minnetonka in the Twin Cities metro area while checking on a man who was removing his shelter — a day ahead of the removal deadline across the southern tier of the state.

Fortunately, all the men reportedly are OK. But while the deadline to remove shelters across the northern tier of the state isn’t until March 20 (March 31 for Minnesota-Canada border waters), the incidents are a reminder of the continued rapid deterioration of ice on most all lakes across the state. In fact, starting Tuesday, reports already were pouring in on the Minnesota State Climatology Office Facebook page of lake ice-outs, although mostly in the greater metro area.

“Ice conditions are changing rapidly during this early spring thaw and anglers should not wait until the removal deadline if conditions warrant early removal,” Capt. Tom Provost, DNR Enforcement Division, said in the DNR release Thursday. “Ice shelters and their contents left on a lake too long can become irretrievable and can end up as unwanted trash in our lakes.”

At the very latest, for inland lakes north of State Highway 200 and U.S. Highway 2, dark houses and “permanent” and portable shelters must be off the ice no later than midnight Monday, March 20. According to the release, enforcement action will be taken if shelters are left after the deadline, and anglers who don’t remove their shelters can be prosecuted. Conservation officers also may remove the structure and confiscate or dispose of it; it is also unlawful to store or leave a shelter at a public access.

Anglers should also remove any refuse or litter from the lake, the DNR added. Wood blocks used to support a shelter or any type of anchoring device need to be removed, too.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended.

For more information, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/shelter.html.

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