The County of Stettler is reminding anglers to remove fishing huts from the ice by the March 31 deadline.
The county participates in the Take it Off Program in partnership with Lacombe County. Anglers are encouraged to register their ice huts through the county website, to ensure each hut is accounted for at the end of the ice fishing season.
The program, which includes Sylvan, Gull and Buffalo Lakes, reduces the likelihood of huts falling through the ice in the spring, and polluting local lakes and creating safety hazards for boaters.
Registration helps identify the owner of an ice hut in the event of vandalism or theft, or to contact them in the event of an early ice breakup, says the county.
“Last year, we had an issue on Buffalo Lake, where we were unable to identify the owner of an ice hut that was left on our lake way too late in the season.
“In the end, it took a team of volunteers, a few putting personal safety at risk, to get that hut removed, and at considerable expense. It isn’t a scene we want to ever re-create,” recalled Quinton Beaumont, director of agricultural services and manager of health and safety for the County of Stettler.
“Other lakes in our province have experienced early ice breakup in previous years and ended up with dozens of ice huts falling in and polluting their lakes. We are trying to avoid a catastrophe of that scale as well,” added Beaumont.
Ice huts can be registered for free at www.stettlercounty.ca. Anglers are only required to register once, then display their registration number permanently on the outside of their ice hut.