Cracking down on ice fishers tardy about leaving their huts on the ice is fine by Terry Keshen.
“Anytime you have something on top of the ice if you can’t get it off in a day or two or three it’s at the bottom of the lake,” said Red Deer’s Keshen, heading out on the lake for a final day’s fishing on Saturday.
“As far as I’m concerned every shack should be off the ice the day the fishing season ends,” said Keshen.
The Town of Sylvan Lake, the five summer villages and other municipalities have joined forces with Alberta Environment and the RCMP this year to avoid a repeat of last season’s mess when two dozen huts were left on the ice after the fishing season ended and the lake began thawing.
Brochures were printed up, reminding ice fishers to get their mini homes away from home, dragged off the ice shortly after the season ends or risk seeing them hauled to shore and taken away to be burned.
Mayor Susan Samson, joined by an Alberta Environment official and a representative from one of the summer villages, went out on to the ice earlier in the year to talk to ice fishers about registration and left information at the unoccupied huts.
A voluntary registration program was introduced to boost compliance and provide a way to alert ice fishers that the time had come to remove their huts. About two dozen signed up and it’s hoped more will next season.
There are moves afoot at the associations representing urban and rural municipalities and the Alberta Fish and Game Association to lobby the province to make registration mandatory.
Edmonton’s Doug Cox, who is Keshen’s brother in law, said he sees no problem with that. Up in High Prairie, registration was common, he said.
“Everyone up there had to have a number, and they enforced it,” he said.
On Ontario’s Lake Simcoe every one of the 12,000 ice fishing huts dotting the ice had to be registered, he said.
“There’s got to be some accountability if you leave your shack out there.”
Samson went out to check the lake on Sunday and was largely pleased by what she saw. There was only one hut and a holiday trailer left that she could see.
“I’m thrilled. I wish we would have had zero.”
She took photos of the camper and sent them to Alberta Environment to see if the owner could be tracked down. It will not be easy moving it now because so much thawing has already taken place, she said.