DNR Ups Patrols After 5 Northwoods Snowmobile Fatalities

Jan 19, 2018

Credit National Park Service

Snowmobilers will see more state wardens on the northern Wisconsin trails following a rash of serious injury and fatal snowmobile accidents. They are beginning "Operation Safe Snow" says a Northwoods DNR law enforcement leader.

Three recent fatalities in Iron county and two in Price county were widely reported, but Lt. Dave Walz of Woodruff says one death is too many in any snowmobile season - and so far Wisconsin has had five fatalities and as many injuries.

Friday morning(1-19-2018)  he said there are many injuries including one reported in Vilas county...

"....just last night in Vilas county just before midnight an individual called after he hit a tree and broke his leg. So we've had a rash of those as well. As of the beginning of the week in Iron county we had three people go to the hospital and were still in intensive care...."

Walz says speed and being under the influence of intoxicants have been factors in the serious crashes so far in the early season. Data shows that seven of 10 snowmobile fatalities involved alcohol. He says enjoy beverages after you're done driving for the day, reduce speed, especially on corners and stick to the 55 mph speed limit, especially at night.

He says there will be an increased law enforcement presence on the trails...

"...we're going to get the wardens in the area to get out with a little more presence during the daytime and at night as well, when people are consuming alcohol. So we're more visible and hopefully people will slow down and think twice about drinking when they're out there operating...."

Walz says the increased patrols are likely to be seen for a few more weeks.