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Paynesville Press - February 25, 2004

DNR reminds anglers to remove fish houses

Anglers need to remove ice fish houses from lakes in the Paynesville area by midnight on Sunday, Feb. 29. That is the deadline for removing fish houses in the southern two-thirds of the state. The deadline in the northern third of the state is Monday, March 15.

The Feb. 29 deadline applies to waters south of a line starting at the Minnesota-North Dakota border, near Moorhead, along U.S. Highway 10, then east to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border near Duluth. The March 15 deadline applies to waters north of that line.

If houses or shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and the structure may be confiscated, removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer. Contents of the structure may be seized and held for 60 days; if not claimed by the owner within that time, the items become property of the state of Minnesota.

After the date when ice or fish houses or shelters must be removed, portable shelters may be placed on the ice and used from one hour before sunrise to midnight, but only if there is an open fishing season on the lake. Storing or leaving fish houses on a public access is prohibited.

Anglers are encouraged to monitor ice conditions on lakes and make arrangements to remove their houses before travel on the ice is dangerous. The Department of Natural Resources recommends a minimum of four inches of good solid ice for ice fishing; at least five inches for snowmobiles or ATVs; eight to 12 inches for a car or small pickup; and 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

Ice conditions can vary greatly, so 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 soft, people should stay off. People should not go on the ice during thaws and should avoid honeycombed ice and dark ice.

Ice is generally weaker where there is moving water, such as near inlets and outlets, bridge abutments, islands and objects that protrude through the ice. Conservation officers remind anglers to keep waterways clean. Litter on lakes tarnishes nature's beauty, destroys wildlife habitat, and ruins opportunities for recreation. Litter is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.

The Minnesota DNR has the following advice to keep the state's waterways clean:
*Set an example for others, especially children, by not littering;
*Properly dispose of tangled fishing line to prevent wildlife from being trapped and injured;
*Litter is a problem that ends up costing taxpayers to keep roadways, parks, and waterways clean; littering can also cause harm to the environment;
*Keep a litter bag or trash container in the fish house, dark house, or shelter to discard materials;
*Secure trash container covers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter;
*Cover and secure any vehicle, truck, or trailer carrying refuse;
*Make certain, when visiting recreation areas, to leave the area clean for the next person to enjoy.

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