Stay off the ice!

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is imploring people to exercise extreme caution around frozen water bodies and not to go on the ice for any reason. After recent tragic events involving ice anglers, Vermont game wardens on Thursday were reporting that ice conditions have deteriorated to unsafe levels statewide. 
Record warm temperatures, wind and rain have caused ice to become unsafe in many areas that would traditionally have held solid ice for several more weeks.  Ice may appear thick, but is structurally weak and melting from underneath as well as at the surface. 
“With the rain and unseasonably warm weather, some areas of the state are seeing thinner and more unpredictable ice than we would expect this time of year,” said Col. Jason Batchelder, chief game warden.  “We would encourage everyone to stay off the ice.”
Wednesday, angler Kenneth Gaudette died after falling through the ice on Shelburne Pond despite a rescue attempt by Warden Dana Joyal. Joyal was briefly hospitalized for hypothermia.
“We train for these situations, but each one is unique and calls for the judgment and discretion of the officer involved,” said Batchelder.  “Dana showed extraordinary courage in this ultimately tragic circumstance.  Our thoughts are with the Gaudette family.”

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