DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) — Ice fishing season is coming to end and the deadline to remove ice shelters from state-owned property is fast approaching.  

The Iowa DNR (Department of Natural Resources) announced in early February that ice shelters must be removed from all state-owned lands and waters by Feb. 20 and encouraged owners not to procrastinate in their removal.  

According to Captain Greg Harson with the Iowa DNR Law enforcement Bureau, when days start to become longer the ice begins to degrade near the shore first which could create a dangerous situation for an owner who attempts to retrieve the shelter later.  

If the owner does not retrieve their ice shelter by Feb. 20, then the owner could face charges set by a judicial magistrate and would be required to pay for removal and a daily fee, according to Harson.  

According to the release from the Iowa DNR, owners are responsible for retrieving any shelters that fall through the ice.  

Harson said that depending on the type of structure and type of lake, shelters that fall through the ice could have an effect on the lake. If the owner does not retrieve the fallen shelter, they would be in violation of Iowa Code section 461A.4. 

Harson added that people ice fishing after Feb. 20 may still use camper-style ice fishing structures to fish from, at their own risk. The structure must not be left unattended and must be removed from state-owned water and property including parking lots if they are going to be left unattended.  

Harson encouraged being considerate of safety for oneself as well as others. Conservation Officers are at risk when they go out to check on an ice fishing structure, EMS (Emergency Medical Service) if a rescue is needed, and the crews who remove shelters that have fallen through the ice.