DNR ice shanty removal deadlines near with warmer temperatures on horizon

Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 11:05 PM EST
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ZILWAUKEE, Mich. (WJRT) (2/21/2021)--The warming temperatures we’re expecting in the days ahead line up with several looming deadlines from the DNR when it comes to ice shanties.

Across the viewing area, those deadlines hit on March 1st and March 15th for those farther north. But, how long is too long to wait?

Following the curve through Zilwaukee, a small city of shanties dots the ice, running from end to end along this stretch of the Saginaw River. Taking it all in from a nearby parking lot, ABC12 found Donald Nuerminger and family.

“I haven’t been out here yet,” he related. “Maybe this week I’ll be out.”

“Is it tempting?”

“Very tempting,” he replied.

Nuerminger knows every bend like the back of his hand. He has, after all, been setting lines along its banks – frozen or not – for years. He explained he’s picked up a few tricks along the way, but most he learned from his father.

“I’m 86, so—my dad was an angler once, so as a kid,” Nuerminger said. “About 80 years.”

Soon enough, much of this shanty town will be packed away and hauled to shore for another year. The DNR’s deadline to remove ice shanties hits March 1 across much of the Great Lakes Bay Region, but rising mercury over the next week could destabilize the ice here and call for an even hastier exit.

“It’s prudent,” Petty Officer Adam Voigt cautioned. “Take it on a case by case basis… You have deterioration at different rates all throughout the Bay.”

Petty Officer Voigt knows from personal experience gained during his tour with the US Coast Guard any step in the wrong direction can prove perilous to people and property.

“Try to prepare as much as you can for as many scenarios,” he advised.

Rapidly thinning ice coverage, shifting winds and water currents can mean drastically different conditions even only feet apart. Anglers, Voigt stressed, should operate on the assumption they and their gear may end up in the drink and prepare accordingly.

“Always wear a life jacket,” he suggested. “Most VHF radios come with a distress button… before anyone even gets the word out, we have an exact location… I highly recommend taking flares out there.”

One too many close calls have Nuerminger playing it safe and keeping an eye out.

“I’m not one to stretch the ice,” he explained. “I want good solid ice underneath me.”

Ice shanties must be removed from waterways in all counties south of Arenac, Isabella, Midland, Gladwin and Ogemaw by March 1. The deadline for those counties and the rest of the northern Lower Peninsula is March 15. Shanties must be removed from Upper Peninsula waterways by March 31.

Shanty owners face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine if their structure falls through the ice. If a government agency has to remove a shanty, the owner can be billed for three times the actual cost of the work.

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