As if Christmas decorations firmly frozen in place weren’t enough, there’s now another item stuck in the deep freeze that maintains its hold on Wisconsin.
Over the past several days, state Department of Natural Resources agents have fielded a number of calls from anglers whose shanties are stuck in the snow and ice of local lakes and streams.
State law requires shanties to be removed from the ice by specific dates this month and next depending on location. Shanties on inland lakes south of Highway 64 are required to be removed by March 3.
While the law cannot be changed to accommodate the frigid temperatures, Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said the DNR will use discretion on enforcement and is working with anglers who are having difficulties removing their 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."
The DNR recommends anglers begin immediately to assess their shanties 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.
The DNR encourages ice anglers to call the department's Hotline, 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367, to describe their situation if they are having difficulty meeting the removal deadline. The angler's 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
More news from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.