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February 21, 2012

Dodge County weekend snowmobile fatality on lake shows dangers

BEAVER DAM, Wis. -- The tragedy in Dodge County Feb. 18 when four snowmobiles drove into open water on Beaver Dam Lake again demonstrates the poor ice conditions all over Wisconsin.

Todd Schaller, recreation safety chief for the Department of Natural Resources, says this season has been anything but a normal Wisconsin winter.

"During a typical Wisconsin winter, poor ice conditions is a big topic early in the winter and late in the season. This year, ice conditions and safety have been the topic for the entire winter," he says.

This season's non-traditional winter with its warmer temperatures has not allowed the development of a solid foundation of ice. "We're now at that point in the season when run-off, longer days, and sun angle deteriorates ice at a faster rate," Schaller said.

One person died and three others had to be rescued from the icy waters of Beaver Dam Lake Saturday night.

Conservation Warden Heather Gottschalk, stationed in Beaver Dam, says the ice on Beaver Dam Lake has been cracking and heaving since the first ice.

"That indicates it is unstable and constantly moving," she said. "We advise people to stay off the ice. However, if people feel the need to go on the ice, they must consider if it is worth the risk."

Schaller says if ice thickness is unknown, use common sense; stay on the shore and stay dry. "You can enjoy the winter and stay safe at the same time," he said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller - 608-267-2774

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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