Sheriffs Dept. And DNR Team Up To Keep Snowmobile Drivers Safe

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Many of you have been out enjoying these snowy conditions by speeding down the snowmobiling trails, But you need to make sure you ride safely. The Marathon County Sheriffs Department and Department of Natural Resources want to make sure you're following the rules.

The two departments often team up to enforce the trail laws. One of the biggest complaints the Sheriffs Department receives is from landowners noticing riders driving off the trails.

"When we do get those complaints from either them or the trail clubs, we typically go to those areas and try to be seen to deter people from cutting those corners because, obviously, underneath the snow is their livelihood, their crops and so we want to take that under consideration as well," said Lt. Ted Knoeck of the Marathon County Sheriffs Department.

Knoeck emphasized that riders need to stay on the trails for safety and to respect the landowners who donate their properties for these trails.

Other things snowmobile patrol officers look for are riders who are drinking and driving, driving carelessly and seeing that riders are obeying all trail signs. DNR Recruit Conservation Warden, Jake Lassila said they hope they don't have to write people up.

"Most people are doing the right thing. Hopefully we're not out there writing citations, we're not out there trying to hide from the public," he said. "We're out there making sure people see us out on patrol so they feel safer out on the trails themselves."

Now patrol does not stop once the sun goes down. Lassila said they still are looking for the same things they do during the day, but there are a few more things they look for at night to keep people safe.

"What we're doing is OWI enforcement and also night time speed limit which is 55 miles per hour. Those are the two main factors in a lot of the accidents and fatalities that we have," he said.

The officers and wardens added if you're going to drive a snowmobile at night to not drive ahead of your lights. They said even going 40 miles per hour can be too fast to see what's coming up in front of you.

Lake Wausau is also known for its parties, which can facilitate illegal drug use as well as alcohol use by minors. If you're out on the lake, patrol officers and wardens may check in to make sure you enjoy your time on the ice in a safe and legal way.

Lassila said they also often see people with improper registration placement, old registration or no registration at all. If you need to register your sled, you can either go to your local DNR service center or visit their website.

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