Local warden advises outdoor recreation safety tips; regulation changes
Change in seasons brings change in duties & outdoor fun
Think safety, Ride sober and Wear life jackets
By DNR Conservation Warden Pat Novesky
One of the benefits of being a conservation warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is that with each change of the season there is a change of job duties and different responsibilities.
If a warden gets bored in this job, the person is not doing this job right! And, the same dynamic is true for those who enjoy the outdoors. Spring brings new things to do outdoors and different hobbies. For many, the change in seasonal fun involves recreational vehicles and fishing
The use of ATVs, or all-terrain vehicles, is climbing at a rapid pace. Along with that are some accidents and enforcement issues – and as part of my job, I get involved with both. However, my goal is to spread information with the goal to help prevent the accident and the enforcement issue.
One message is the public’s belief that recreational vehicle accidents only happen to the young “speed demons” on the lakes and trails is not quite accurate. Last season, there were 22 fatal ATV accidents: 19 of these operators were older than 30, 11 (or half) were older than 50.
The common factors in almost all the accidents are speed, alcohol and striking a fixed object. It is important that riders are aware of these factors. If a rider chooses to operate an ATV at excessive speeds and/or while intoxicated, that act may cause something much worse and dangerous than having to talk with a warden or another law enforcement officer about poor decisions
Ride sober and responsibly. It’s much more fun and respectful of all the other people enjoying the trails just like you are. The penalties of being involved in a crash that injures or kills someone can be substantial and involve criminal charges and civil law suits. It is just not worth taking the chance by making these poor decisions.
Boating and life jackets-
Each year the DNR also completes a summary of boating accidents that occur within our state, http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/boat/crashinfo.html. If you look at the statistics you find an interesting trend: It is not young operators driving ski boats and jet skis in dramatic crash/bang accidents that are the highest percentage of accident victims.
Last season, many of the individuals who died in boat accidents were male, 50 years or older, operating non-motorized boats, were NOT under the influence of alcohol and died while fishing because they either fell from the boat, or the boat capsized and they drowned because they were not wearing a life jacket. To date this year, there have already been two fatalities with similar circumstances.
There is a pretty simple way to reduce these drowning deaths and ensure the rest of the family will still enjoy fish dinners. If you are a spouse or family member of a angler with some gray hair (or no hair) on their head, remind them to WEAR a life jacket. Here’s a better idea: give them an inflatable one that is comfortable to wear & will inflate automatically if they end up in the water. A life jacket can’t save anyone when it is not worn.
GoWild licensing system, Wisconsin River fishing-
Everyone, including the local warden is getting used to the new Go Wild license system. This new system allows three options to carry your fishing license:
*Print your own license
*Display a go wild card
*Show driver’s license
The process to check these licenses is a little different than in the past and requires a warden to scan the cards to determine if you are valid so be patient as this takes a little more time. Also many fishermen have noticed a misprint in the regulations indicating that the Wisconsin River stretches that used to be open year round are not. Nothing has changed, and you can still fish the Wisconsin River from King’s dam in Tomahawk downstream all year long for everything except musky, paddlefish, trout, and sturgeon.
If you have any questions for me, you can reach me using any of these contacts listed below. And, have a safe summer!
Conservation Warden Patrick Novesky
Tomahawk Field Station
(715) 453-2188 Ext 1262
1-800-TIP-WDNR (Violation Hotline)
1-888-WDNRINFo (General Information Line)