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Time to pull your huts off the ice for another season

'There have been incidences where people just start the hut on fire instead of responsibly bringing it off. All that’s inside and the hut itself just goes to the bottom of the lake and that’s what we want to avoid'
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Good news for those excited for spring, but bad news for anyone who loves ice fishing, because huts need to be off the lake by the end of Friday.

March 15 is the day that ice huts must be off the ice and packed away for another year.

Rick Maw, an enforcement manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, tells BarrieToday that the date is the same each year for a couple of reasons.

“March 15th has long been the date to have the huts off, as historically it seemed to be when it was safest to start moving them off,” Maw said. “Also, whether this played into it or not, but whitefish and lake trout season end March 15 and both fish are popular in Lake Simcoe.”

While the 'permanent' huts must be off, temporary huts can still be used so long as they are removed when you are done fishing for the day.

Maw said there are steep fines for people who don’t adhere to the rules and hopes everyone respects the reasons why.

“We have issued fines of up to $1,000 before,” he said. “We can issue just a ticket, but, in some cases, we will push for a summons to court if we feel there has been an extreme lack of respect for the lake’s well-being and safety of others.

"There have been incidences where people just start the hut on fire instead of responsibly bringing it off," Maw added. "All that’s inside and the hut itself just goes to the bottom of the lake and that’s what we want to avoid.”

Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon tells BarrieToday that he wants safety first for those who own huts and those who may affected by any structures left behind.

“The obvious concern is that if the huts aren’t removed and fall into the melting ice that they could be a hazard for the spring and summer boating season. The same can be said for any debris that is left behind,” he said.

Leon said there are also inherent safety concerns that come with the warmer weather. 

“With rain and mild weather in the forecast, the safety of the public and those who still have ice huts is a concern," he said. "Venturing out on melting ice is dangerous and proper clothing in the form of a flotation suit should be utilized along with ice picks should you fall in."

Police also advise that people carry a fully charged cellphone in case of emergency, as well as telling someone where you are going and when you expect to return to shore. 

"Most importantly, though, before heading onto the ice at this time of year, it is important to make sure to check that the ice will support the intended activity and the conditions to be on the ice are safe," Leon said. "People must remember that ice conditions can and do change very quickly with milder weather and rain. Simply put, no ice is safe ice.”




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