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Party's over, ice fishers: DNR's first fish house removal deadline here

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The end of winter is in sight – good news for many, except, perhaps, the state's ice fishers.

With the thaw comes the reminder that they're to begin removing their fish houses from the state's lakes. The first deadline is midnight on Monday, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Under the DNR's plan, all ice houses in the state should be packed away for the season by the beginning of April.

But the deadlines come with a warning – those who don't clean up after themselves risk prosecution and possible destruction of their leftover property, the DNR's website says.

The agency is apparently serious about cleanliness.

"We will do what we can to identify those people and hold them accountable," DNR Enforcement Chief Ken Soring tells MPR. "These are people who, of anyone, should be having some respect and appreciation for the lake and keeping it as clean as they can."

He adds that fish houses – and garbage – are abandoned on lakes every year.

The March 2 deadline applies to anglers in the southern two thirds of Minnesota, while those in the north until March 16 to vacate. A little longer if you're fishing in the Minnesota-Canada "border waters" – the final day there is March 31.

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