Warden Service: Be careful on the ice

ELLSWORTH — The Maine Warden Service is reminding anglers, snowmobilers and others who like to recreate on Maine’s lakes and ponds in the winter that ice conditions may be unsafe.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of checking ice conditions right now,” said Game Warden Col. Joel Wilkinson. “Folks really need to take the time to drill test holes as often as they can and proceed with great caution.”

Game wardens suggest people test the thickness of the ice before venturing out by using a chisel or auger. They should continue to assess the safety of the ice as they move out onto the lake or pond. If the ice is not thick enough to hold, turn around and go back to shore or a safe location.

The general guidelines for ice safety are a minimum of 4 inches of solid ice for foot travel and 6 to 8 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. Due to uneven temperatures and high winds, ice conditions are currently very unpredictable and it is not advisable to drive vehicles onto the ice.

It is also important to remember that thick ice does not always mean safe ice. The varying weather conditions so far this winter make is possible for ice to be thick, but not strong. Weak or unsafe ice is formed when temperatures warm and break down the ice and the slushy surface then refreezes. Great caution should also be used near inlets, outlets and springs holes.

For more winter safety tips, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/wordpress/insideifw/2014/12/31/ice-safety-tips/.

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