DNR urges caution when venturing onto thin ice

BROWN DEER -- The mild winter in southeastern Wisconsin is making for dangerous ice conditions across the state. Three people had to be rescued from Shawano Lake up north this weekend, after their vehicle fell through the ice. On Okauchee Lake, two ATVs fell through the ice Sunday -- one when a man was drilling a hole and walking on the ice, and another near the shoreline. The men were not hurt, but the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing a warning that the ice is thin, and it's dangerous if you're not careful!

Gary Bucheger took his ATV out on Okauchee Lake Monday, and says with mild temperatures and thin ice, it's important to stay alert. "You just have to be careful where you are going, and know the lake. It is going to get warm the next few days. I don't think I'm going to be doing this on Wednesday," Bucheger said.

Bucheger says looks can be deceiving. "You think there's snow (on the lake), but you may be on two inches of ice," Bucheger said.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the ice conditions we're seeing right now on lakes across the state are not normal, and the DNR says it's very dangerous right now. "Even if you think you are on a safe spot because ten inches of ice exists at one point, doesn't mean that it is going to be safe at another point. Right now, it's really dangerous because our ice conditions are not normal for this time of year. With the warm weather we've had, the ice just hasn't developed like it normally does," DNR Conservation Warden Doug Zeihen said.

Bucheger hauled wood on the icy lake Monday, but says he'll be checking the thickness of the ice before venturing out again -- especially with mild temperatures expected for the rest of this week.

The DNR says so far this year in Wisconsin, one person has drowned after falling through the ice on a snowmobile.