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DNR: Ice houses could be tough to remove

Published 10:33am Thursday, March 6, 2014

By Trey Mewes, Austin Daily Herald

Fish houses are the latest among myriad victims struck by the deep cold and brutally icy conditions this winter has brought.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say some anglers are having difficulties removing fish houses from lakes across Minnesota due to this year’s weather.

“Last week, I did have a call or two from people concerned that they couldn’t get to their houses, because of the drifting,” Jeanine Vorland, area wildlife manager for the DNR, said Tuesday.

Fish shelters throughout most of Minnesota were required to be removed by Monday, March 3, this year, with ice houses in the upper third of Minnesota due for removal by March 17. The DNR is making it clear they’re going to continue enforcing that deadline if residents haven’t already contacted their local conservation officers about their houses.

“We hope anglers understand they are going to face difficult conditions when they remove their fish houses this year,” said Col. Ken Soring, director of the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “We’ll work with anglers who show due diligence to get their shelters off the lakes but we are urging everyone to take responsibility.”

According to the DNR, there are some responsible options for removing shelters like enlisting the help of friends and locating equipment to make the job easier. This requires hard work and tenacity to remove or dismantle a stubbornly frozen fish shelter. Some people are also offering shelter removal for a fee.

At a minimum, shelter owners must ensure that unretrievable shelters are prepared for removal by raising and blocking the shelter up to prevent the bottom portion from becoming frozen in the ice. Once lake travel is possible, the structure and all other materials must be cleaned up to prevent littering and potentially ending up on someone’s beach when the ice melts.

Failure to remove the house may result in a fine of $125 plus court costs.