Ice houses need to be removed from metro lakes by Monday night

Ice fishers have until Monday night to remove their ice houses from lakes in the Twin Cities metro, or they risk facing consequences.

The removal deadline for inland waters in the southern two-thirds of the state is 11:59 p.m. Monday. Any houses that are not removed by the deadline may be confiscated, removed, or destroyed by DNR conservation officers. The owners could also be cited.

In mid-February, deputies with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office warned that waiting this long to remove ice houses could be dangerous due to poor ice conditions.

Some ice houses were still out on Lake Minnetonka’s Phelps Bay on Sunday afternoon. Mike Kirkwood, a Minnetrista resident of three decades, expressed concerns about them during his walk around the lake.

"I'm watching people on the lake who probably should be getting off pretty soon. It's a little scary this time of year because it's already … very soft here at the boat landing and it's not a good idea to be out there. And I'm surprised people are still driving out there. It'd be one thing to walk, but driving's very dangerous," Kirkwood said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said ice is never 100% safe. There are spots where the ice is particularly thin. 

"My wife was not for driving out on the ice. So we walked out, but our friends did (drive). Yeah, so we all got to run our dogs and have a little fun while it's warmed up," said Jason Zattler, who was out on the ice with his family Sunday.

Kirkwood said he’s seen people fall through the ice in previous seasons, which he hopes he never has to witness again.

"I hope I don't have to call the sheriff if someone goes through because that means they have to work in dangerous conditions. We don't want them to have to do that if we can help it," he explained.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.

In the northern one-third of the state – north of the east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border – the deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 20.