Ice fishing on local lakes is one of Minnesota’s favorite winter pastimes. It can be a beautiful scene out on a frozen, snowy lake. It can also be a dirty mess.  It’s not difficult to find piles of garbage left next to an abandoned fishing hole. While this garbage is ugly and unsightly during the winter, it can be dangerous to wildlife and water quality after the ice melts away. Wild animals are often curious about the litter left behind and may end up tangled in it or become sick from eating it.

It is illegal in Minnesota to leave garbage, including human waste and cigarette butts, on the ice. It’s also inconsiderate, so please take a moment at the end of the day to clean up your fishing site. Carry all garbage away with you and dispose of it in a proper trash receptacle. Officers often record the name and location of ice houses during the fishing season. If a large amount of trash is left in an area, officers can track down the owner and issue a warning or a fine. Littering can carry both a civil and criminal ticket, each carrying its own penalty.

The easiest way to avoid a fine is to do what your parents always told you: clean up after yourself! It benefits you and the environment, and it only takes a few moments. When you are packing for the big fishing trip, throw a garbage bag in and you’ll be all set.

Susan Humble is with the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District. 

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