DNR conservation officers urge holiday weekend ice and snowmobile safety

Contact: Katie Gervasi, 517-290-0679
Agency: Natural Resources

Jan. 14, 2022

Ice fishermen enjoy an early morning outing on Huron Bay in Baraga County.

This three-day holiday weekend is traditionally a good time during the winter for anglers and snowmobilers to escape into the great outdoors.

With continuously fluctuating temperatures across much of the state, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers remind anglers and snowmobilers to make safety their main priority - especially if venturing onto the ice.

"Even during consistent cold stretches, pressure cracks in the ice can develop within hours," said Lt. Skip Hagy, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Newberry. "There is no such thing as, 'safe' ice. Always check conditions for yourself, don't rely on what you see others doing."

River mouths and other places where river or lake currents may be located are often places of unstable ice. Reservoirs with changing water levels are also places to use caution.

With temperatures reaching near 40 degrees Fahrenheit across much of the southern Lower Peninsula, frozen, or near frozen bodies of water should be checked very carefully before braving the ice.

"Warm spells may weaken the ice and then cause it to refreeze at night, making it unstable," said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR Law Enforcement's Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement section.

Officers said the most important things to do if you fall through the ice are to remain calm and return in the direction you came from.

Additional ice safety tips include:

  • Wear ice picks around your neck so they are accessible if you need them.
  • Use a spud, auger, stick or axe to check the ice before you go on it.
  • Wear a life jacket.
  • If you are visiting a new area, ask locals at bait shops, restaurants or stores about ice conditions, but always check conditions for yourself before going onto the ice.

If snowmobiling, check the ice before riding on it and watch for pressure cracks or other signs of water as you continue to ride. Just because the ice is strong in one area, doesn't mean it will be the same in other places.

Always Ride Right by riding sober, on the right side of trails, yielding to groomers and at a safe speed. Speed is the leading cause of serious snowmobile injury and fatalities.

In Michigan, all snowmobile operators between ages 12 and 16 are required to obtain a Michigan-approved snowmobile safety certificate to operate without a legal guardian or to cross a highway or street. Earn your snowmobile safety certificate or purchase a trail permit online at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect residents through general law enforcement and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

The DNR will be accepting applications for its upcoming conservation officer academy until Monday, Feb. 28.

Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.


Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Fishing: Two ice fishermen enjoy an early morning outing on Huron Bay in Baraga County. Heading into the holiday weekend, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers urge caution and safety when venturing out onto the ice or when snowmobiling.