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DNR Urges Caution After Deadly Snowmobiling Weekend

Wisconsin DNR

Three people died while snowmobiling in northern Wisconsin this weekend, bringing the total to 17 deaths for the season. There are now nine snowmobile fatalities so far this February.

With snow in the forecast and more still on the ground, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is again reminding snowmobilers to sled safely. Warden Lieutenant Martin Stone is administrator for the DNR's Off-Highway Vehicle program. 

“Data shows that speed and alcohol tend to be contributing factors in most of those cases.  You’ve got to slow down, and zero alcohol.  Don’t drink before or during your ride,” said Stone.

Stone encourages people to plan ahead in case of trouble.

“Definitely bring a cell phone along, a first aide kit, a tow rope for your snowmobile, an extra belt, some extra warm clothes.  If you have a breakdown you might be stranded on the trail awhile without cell service, so bring those extra safety items along”, said Stone.

February is often the worst month for snowmobile deaths.  The DNR says winter's fluctuating temperatures, snowfalls and snowmelts have made for often-changing terrain and mixed conditions on snowmobile trails as well as rivers and lakes. The DNR cautions that no ice is 100% safe.

There were 16 snowmobile fatalities in 2019. Eleven of those happened on public trails and roadways while four deaths occurred on frozen waterways.

John Burton is the WXPR Morning Edition Host.
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