Conservation officers aren't happy about the many messes along roads and waterways. They're warning ice fishermen, watching areas and tracking litterbugs.
People probably wouldn't discard their trash in their neighbors' yards. But that apparently doesn't hold true for public roads and waterways in Minnesota.
The state Department of Natural Resources said last week that its conservation officers have found everything from discarded building materials to old appliances in ditches and left behind on lake ice after people remove their ice houses.
The DNR expects to find even more as the deadline for removing fish houses nears -- March 5 in the southern part of the state, March 19 in the north.
Col. Jim Konrad, DNR enforcement director, said his agency is asking residents to dispose of trash and other material with their local waste hauler or landfill. He said conservation officers make a special effort this time of year to monitor and identify possible problem areas.
In a news release, the DNR talked about a few examples: Conservation officer Jeff Humphrey of Cromwell, Minn., recently finished an investigation into numerous bags of trash left along a rural road.
"In this case, they made a significant effort to remove labels with names and addresses from their garbage, but I found a child's name on a piece of homework and a wristband from a local hospital," Humphrey said. "A few phone calls, and I identified my suspect," he said. "They said they did not have garbage service and usually take their garbage to their employers to get rid of it."
In another case, a landowner had had enough of people dumping trash on his property. He put up a trail camera and caught images of a man and his vehicle.
"With the electronic evidence, the interview went pretty smooth and the guy admitted to it right away," conservation officer Jeff Johanson said. "I made him clean the waste up and issued him a citation. Of course he knew nothing about the countless other times things were dumped there; must have been somebody else!"
Last year, Johanson found a pile of trash and building materials on the ice after an ice fisherman had removed his fish house. One of the pieces of trash was a sign that read, "For Sale, Call ...." Sure enough, the phone number belonged to the man who'd left the garbage.
Oh, and by the way, although littering is a misdemeanor, it can carry a fine as high as $1,000.
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284