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Winter's grip holds ice shanties; Wardens get it, discretion on deck!

Published: February 27, 2014 in Outdoor Recreation

By: Joanne M. Haas/Bureau of Law Enforcement

This winter is not going anywhere fast - and neither are some ice shanties regardless of what the Wisconsin laws say.

The Department of Natural Resources and the conservation wardens understand the predicament facing some ice fishers. This winter is not getting the hint to leave already! Oh, it faked us out with the rapid warm-up and the rain. But then it did the quick slide into sub-zero land and tightened its grip on the shanties.

"We've heard about shanties frozen in place by several inches of slush - and some lakes have thick snow from the recent major storm which poses even more challenges," Chief Warden Todd Schaller says. "There is not enough time to modify the law before the deadline removal dates. But we can use discretion for those who are working hard to get their structures off the ice."

If this sounds like your predicament, here's what you do. Immediately assess your shanty's removal possibilities and work with local vendors, friends and others for assistance. "Anglers often can find services right in their home areas who can either do the removal, rent the equipment to assist in that removal or some other help in removing those shelters from the ice," Schaller says.

Anglers who have difficulty getting their shelters off the ice by the deadline due to deep snow, or shanties frozen to the ice still need to work actively to free their shelters from the ice and arrange to have the shelters removed from the ice. And what the DNR and its wardens ask you to do is call the department's Hotline, 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. Tell the dispatcher your status and if you are having difficulty meeting the removal deadline. Your information will be passed on to the local conservation warden who will use discretion in the enforcement of the deadline.

Once the ice removal dates arrive, anglers can continue to use portable ice fishing shelters daily as long as they feel the ice is safe for travel -- and if they remove their shelters daily and when not actively being used. Permanent shelters, meaning those normally not removed daily from the ice, must be removed from the ice no later than the specified removal date for that water body.

Here are the statewide ice shanty removal dates:

  • Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1
  • Inland waters south of Highway 64 by March 3
  • Inland waters north of Highway 64 and from Lake Michigan, Green Bay and Lake Superior by March 17
  • Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15
  • Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by February 20

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Last Revised: Thursday, February 27, 2014