Snowmobile safety in the spotlight as DNR sees record number of riders

March 02, 2019 10:23 PM

This winter, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said it is seeing record numbers of snowmobilers on trails around the state.

But with the increase in riders also comes more law enforcement officers and DNR agents on patrol.

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"Officers up north are seeing hundreds of people out at a time," said Joe Albert, who works in the enforcement division at the DNR.

More riders raise the risk of injury or death. Just days ago, a 15-year-old in Pierce County, Wisconsin was injured after investigators found the teen's snowmobile hit a snowbank. Last month, a firefighter in Northfield died after crashing his sled.

RELATED: Snowmobiling to school a hot issue in Milaca

Albert said speed and alcohol are the main issues officers are on the lookout for. So far this season, five people have died in snowmobile-related crashes. Albert said that number is average compared to recent years.


Fatality numbers for recent snowmobile seasons (Source: DNR)

  • 2017-2018: 7
  • 2016-2017: 5
  • 2015-2016: 3
  • 2014-2015: 4
  • 2013-2014: 15 

Riders said they have also noticed more people on the trails and are also on the lookout for bad behavior.

"I've seen a few sheriffs out patrolling," said Vaughn Gehrke, of Woodbury. "Everybody seems to be doing a good job and doing it safely and the right way."

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Kirsten Swanson

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