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Ask a Conservation Officer: Litter on frozen lakes

Q: I see a lot of stuff left on the ice from ice anglers. Can they do that?

A: Litter from ice anglers is an unfortunate and very preventable problem that conservation officers deal with each year, and this year has been no different.

Cigarette butts, bait containers, lure packaging, sunflower seeds, beer and pop cans, food wrappers, propane canisters and many other items add to the list of garbage left behind. This gives ice fishermen a very bad image, and quickly builds up on the ice surface, only to enter the water in the spring melt.

COs spend quite a bit of time each winter policing this issue and writing citations for litter on the ice. Some of this litter blows across the lake and causes headaches for lakeshore owners, which doesn't help with angler access issues.

If you brought it with you on the ice, you are required to pack it back out. Leaving any item of rubbish behind on the ice is a litter violation, punishable by criminal or civil citation. Help keep our ice and lakes clean.

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to