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Ice fishing shelter removal dates fast approaching; ice conditions are deteriorating

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Deadlines for removing fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters from state waterways are rapidly approaching, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Anglers are advised to remove shelters earlier if ice conditions warrant. Mild winter weather is causing ice conditions to deteriorate rapidly across much of Minnesota.

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Dates of removal are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Shelters located south of this line must be removed no later than midnight, March 5.

Shelters located north of this line must be removed no later than midnight, March 19.

Exceptions are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), and Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1).

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say if shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.

The DNR's Enforcement Division director, Col. Jim Konrad, recommends outdoor enthusiasts check ice thickness by using an auger or spud bar before venturing onto a frozen pond, lake or river.

Konrad says ice conditions can vary greatly, and anglers should know about the different types and characteristics of ice. Slush shows weakening of ice and should be considered a danger sign. If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, people should stay off. People should not go on the ice during thaws. Honeycombed ice, dark snow and dark ice should be avoided. Ice is generally thinner where there is moving water, such as near inlets and outlets, bridge abutments, islands and other objects that protrude through the ice.

According to information from the DNR Boat and Water Safety Section, a minimum of 4 inches of new, clear ice is necessary for ice fishing; snowmobiling or ATV activity requires at least 5 inches; 8 to 12 inches are needed to support a car or small pickup; 12-15 inches are need for a medium truck.

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