The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

DNR steps up snowmobile patrols


January 20, 2018

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe

A pair of snowmobilers ride on the trail in Hurley near Silver Street Friday afternoon.

WOODRUFF, Wis. - More Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens will patrol northern Wisconsin trails this month following a rash of serious injury and fatal snowmobile accidents.

There have been five fatal snowmobile accidents in Iron and Price Counties, including three last weekend.

DNR Lt. Dave Walz, of Woodruff, said one death is too many in any snowmobile season.

"Our goal is to educate and focus on the common cause of crashes, speed and alcohol. Stressing safety tips keeps everyone of all ages out on the trails happy and having fun," Walz said of the planned patrols.

DNR conservation wardens will perform enhanced patrols in the Iron, Price and Ashland counties.

Walz says speed and being under the influence of intoxicants have been factors in the serious crashes so far. "These are the two leading causes of snowmobile accidents and will be the priority of our increase patrols. Long-term data shows that seven of 10 snowmobile fatalities involved alcohol."

Many of the accidents have involved excessive speed on curves.

"You can enjoy your favorite beverages after a fun day on the trails and you're done driving," Walz said.

The nighttime speed limit for snowmobiles is 55 mph on all areas - private and public - trails and frozen water. "The key here is to not over-drive your headlights," Walz said. "Trail corners can get very icy, so slow down and stay on the extreme right side of the trail."

Walz says all should be prepared to see more wardens on patrols on the trails.

"We are focused on education, but if appropriate will take enforcement action to remove intoxicated operators off the trails to make sure everyone is enjoying the trails and other outdoor pursuits safely," he said.


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