Cigarette butts, bags, blocking materials, fish carcasses, propane canisters, cans and bottles (some full of human waste) — all examples of litter that conservation officers have found on the ice.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that litter on the ice tends to become more problematic as deadlines loom for fish house removal.

Shelters must be removed from inland waters in the southern two-thirds of the state by midnight March 2 and from inland waters in the northern one-third of the state by midnight March 16. Different deadlines apply to the border lakes.

Litter left on the ice can potentially affect water quality if it remains when the ice melts.

Trash left on the ice can potentially affect water quality if it remains when the ice melts. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
Trash left on the ice can potentially affect water quality if it remains when the ice melts. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

“People need to clean up after themselves when they head home. The only thing they should leave is an imprint in the snow or ice,” Rodmen Smith, director of the Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division, said in a news release. “The majority of people do things right, but unfortunately, there’s a subset of people who leave a mess on the ice and count on someone else to clean up after them.”

Throughout the winter, conservation officers document areas where they believe littering may be a problem and issue litter citations as necessary. Anglers also report littering to the DNR when they see it done on the ice.

“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 in the release. “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.”

Litter remains from a fish house. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
Litter remains from a fish house. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)