Calgary

Ice fishing shacks left on lakes

Provincial officials are seeing a record number of ice fishing huts being left behind on lakes in the province.

Provincial officials are seeing a record number of ice fishing huts being left behind on lakes in the province.

The huts provide shelter for fishermen during the winter months in Alberta.

By the end of the fishing season, March 31, the huts are supposed to come down and the heating stoves removed. But that's not the case this year, with about 50 huts remaining this spring, including Sylvan Lake and Gull Lake northwest of Red Deer.

Ken Dahl, an environmental protection officer with Alberta Environment, said the heavy snow could have made it tougher to access the shacks.

"There seems to be more huts on the ice in Central Alberta than we have seen in recent years," he said. "We are trying to get the message out that fishermen need to be responsible for these things and sometimes it seems we are not winning that argument."

Provincial officials are left with task of removing the abandoned huts, and as the ice melts it becomes more dangerous. Leaving shacks behind is more than just an inconvenience, he said.

"There are all sorts of risks involved," Dahl said. "If there are shacks that are left behind, they can wash up on the shore. Or they could be partially submerged and be a boating hazard."

The shacks can have furniture, propane tanks, batteries and other debris, which can end up in the lakes.

Dahl doesn't recommend burning the huts on ice because of environmental pollution caused by the smoke and debris, especially since many huts are made of pressure treated lumber or have fibreglass insulation.