DNR warns deteriorating ice may prompt early shanty removal

Anglers taking advantage of winter ice fishing should keep a close watch on ice conditions, as unseasonable weather may prompt shanty removal prior to the seasonal dates required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Throughout most of the Lower Peninsula, Mother Nature unfortunately didn’t cooperate with us this year,” said acting Lt. Jeff Rabbers, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “As disappointing as it is that many anglers must cut their season short, safety is the DNR’s main priority. We want to make sure that everyone has ample opportunity to remove their shanties before conditions become unsafe.”

People venturing onto ice should use extreme caution as temperatures begin to rise or fluctuate. The repeated thawing and refreezing of ice weakens its strength, decreasing its ability to support the additional weight of people, snowmobiles, ORVs and shanties. Deteriorating ice, water currents and high winds increase the probability of pressure cracks, which can leave anglers and others stranded on ice floes or at risk of falling through the ice.

Shanty owners whose structures fall through the ice are subject to penalties of up to 30 days in jail, fines up to $500, or both. If a shanty is removed by a government agency, the court can require the owner to reimburse that agency for up to three times the cost of removal.

Removal dates

Daily use of ice shanties is permitted anywhere in Michigan if ice conditions allow and if the shanties are removed from the ice at the end of each day.

Seasonal removal dates begin with Lake St. Clair, located northeast of Detroit. This year, shanties must be removed from Lake St. Clair before sunset Sunday, Feb. 26.

Shanties in the northern Lower Peninsula must be removed by midnight Wednesday, March 15. Those counties include Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Emmet, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Wexford.

Ice shanties in the remaining counties of the Lower Peninsula must be removed by midnight Wednesday, March 1.

In the Upper Peninsula, on Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters, ice shanties must be removed by midnight Wednesday, March 15.

All other bodies of water in the Upper Peninsula must have ice shanties removed by midnight Friday, March 31.

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