According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, reports of inconsistent ice thickness on area lakes continue to be a safety issue for anglers and anyone driving vehicles, including OHVs and snowmobiles, on the lakes.
The fatality rate this season is already higher than the last two seasons combined. All fatalities have occurred while driving an ATV or snowmobile.
In a news release, DNR Walker Area Fisheries Supervisor Doug Schultz stated ice thickness on Leech Lake is very erratic, ranging from 6 to 16 inches.
"Pine Point should have 12-plus inches by now instead of 6 inches," said Schultz. "Other area lakes with thin ice include Big Sand Lake by Park Rapids and Clearwater Lake by Shevlin, both have only 5 inches of ice."
These reports are all accurate, as of December 25, and while ice conditions should improve over the course of the next week, the ice may not be as thick as people expect.
The DNR reminds folks that no ice is ever 100 percent safe. It is imperative that people not let their guard down when it comes to ice safety. Please check with local experts, sporting goods stores and resorts for latest ice condition reports before heading out on a lake.