(FOX 9) - State conservation officials warn that litter left on Minnesota lakes by ice fishers is posing a looming threat to water quality as the ice melts this spring.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said officers have found cigarette butts, propane canisters, cans, bags, bottles, human waste, blocking materials and fish carcasses on Minnesota lakes this winter.
Starting March 2, fish houses on lakes in the southern two-thirds of the state must be removed. By March 16, the rest of the state must follow. As fish house owners start removing them, they are asking that anglers pick up after themselves.
“The only thing they should leave is an imprint in the snow or ice,” said Rodmen Smith, the director of the DNR’s Enforcement Division.
The DNR says officers will be issuing citations to those who leave litter behind. While they cannot monitor every fish house site, crews are patrolling problem areas and are taking complaints from other anglers to find litterers.
“Leaving trash on the ice isn’t a mistake or an oversight – the people who litter make a conscious decision to do it,” Smith said. “They take advantage of the fact that the majority of people care about our lakes and will clean up trash, even if it isn’t theirs.”