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Upper Red Lake is one of Minnesota most popular ice fishing destinations.

It is also, unfortunately, seen by some anglers as a dumping ground for their human waste.

"It's disgusting," Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer Nicholas Prachar told Bring Me The News. "And I don't understand the mindset." 

Prachar, in the DNR's weekly round-up of CO reports, wrote he has received "numerous complaints" about people with newer, RV-style wheelhouses dumping their sewage on to the ice as they leave Upper Red Lake. 

He told Bring Me The News that, typically, he'd hear about one, maybe two incidents like this each winter season. But in January alone, he's already received four sewage dumping complaints. 

It's not just one bad apple. The reports have come from different areas of the lake, Prachar said. On Sunday morning he managed to make contact with one suspect, after receiving a call from a witness on the south end of the lake. But Prachar hadn't seen the infraction happen himself, and the person wouldn't admit to it — so the CO was unable to cite the individual.

"It's definitely an issue and a problem," Kevin Waldo, co-owner of West Wind Resort and vice president of the Upper Red Lake Area Association, told Bring Me The News. 

Whether it's worse than in the past, Waldo wasn't sure, though he said he's received a lot of calls from people asking where to dump sewage and wastewater. 

Jason Meyer, one of the owners of Red Lake Ice Cabins, said he's heard about sewage dumping but never seen it happen himself. Meyer, who has operated the resort for eight years, said he doesn't think this kind of behavior is rampant or widespread, especially since most people don't have the newer, RV-style wheel houses with tanks. But, he said, "any amount of sewage is not good."

What he notices more frequently are the waste-filled plastic bags, which people use once then leave out in the snow for someone else to deal with in the spring.

Waldo said this human waste issue is on the radar of the Upper Red Lake Area Association, which includes a clear message on its home page.

"Human waste does not belong on the ice, under the ice or along our shorelines," the site says, followed by a graphic with the words: "This is our home, not your toilet."

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Waldo said the association is working on solutions to make it easier for visitors to get rid of their waste.

Anyone who sees a person dumping sewage on a lake should call the local CO or State Patrol dispatch and let them know, and call the county to provide whatever identifying information you can, Prachar said. 

While there aren't citations that directly address human waste, sewage dumping would be considered littering, a DNR spokesperson said.

"It's something that needs to be addressed, it needs to be talked about," said Meyer. "People, if they're aware of how bad it is for the lake, maybe they'll think twice about doing it."

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