Snowmobilers: Sled Safe This Season
As Wisconsin receives measurable snowfall and many trails are anticipated to open for the first time this season, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding snowmobilers to operate within their limits, stay sober and ride only on designated trails.
In the early months of 2023, there were 16 fatal snowmobile crashes, with 10 involving alcohol. Alcohol affects your risk perception and reaction time. If you choose to consume alcohol, wait until after you’ve safely returned home – it could save your life.
“Excessive speed, alcohol use and inexperience contribute to snowmobile crashes. Remember to ride responsibly and look out for yourself and others. Sober riding is always the best policy,” said Lt. Jake Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “Snowmobiles and drinking don’t mix. Making the smart choice and abstaining from alcohol can save your life. Impairment of any kind, either by drugs or alcohol, can have tragic consequences.”
Early-Season Ice Safety Reminders
- Remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
- The DNR does not monitor ice conditions. Contact local sport shops to ask about conditions locally on the lake or river you want to cross.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or float coat should you fall through the ice and to help retain body heat.
- Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
- Slow down when traveling at night.
- Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents that can thin the ice.
- Watch for pressure ridges or ice buckling. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water.
In addition to these ice safety tips, the DNR reminds riders to check trail conditions ahead of time by contacting your county forestry and/or parks department, local snowmobile clubs, or viewing Travel Wisconsin’s Snow Report.
Remember – operating a snowmobile off a designated trail is considered trespassing and can damage private property.
DNR Violation Hotline
Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations, including unsafe snowmobile operation, may confidentially report by calling or texting the Violation Hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay the information to conservation wardens. Reports can also be filed online.