FARGO — Deadlines are nearing to remove fish houses from Minnesota and North Dakota waters.
North Dakota anglers have until midnight, Friday, March 15, to remove permanent fish houses from North Dakota waters, and from any state wildlife management area or federal refuge land.
Anglers are advised to remove their houses soon because access on many lakes could be restricted due to snow.
The deadline of March 15 will not be extended. North Dakota fish houses may be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.
In Minnesota, conservation officer Alexander Birdsall will be patrolling Lake Waconia at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 to remind anglers to remove their ice fishing shelters by Monday, March 4.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also asks outdoor enthusiasts to do their part in keeping lakes clean by picking up trash, whether or not it's their own and to fully remove their shelter by the fast approaching deadline.
If shelters are not removed by the deadline, owners may be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.
The March 4 deadline applies to structures in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota. For structures on lakes in the northern third of the state, the deadline is by the end of the day on Monday, March 18.
Birdsall will check fish shelters, visit with anglers, explain shelter removal regulations and show potential trouble spots such as litter on the ice, areas with high snow drifts and fish houses frozen in.
After the removal deadline, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.
Ice is never 100 percent safe. Outdoor enthusiasts should use an auger or ice chisel to test the ice as they venture onto a frozen pond, lake or river.
While Minnesota and North Dakota are removing ice houses, South Dakota has extended its deadline for fish house removal.