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State officials warn of thin ice

State wildlife officials are warning that warm early winter weather is making it unsafe to venture out onto the ice on many Maine ponds and lakes.

Mark Latti, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says a man died early Sunday morning after his side-by-side utility vehicle fell though the ice on North Pond in Smithfield. And last week, a father and son fell though the ice on Searsport's Half Moon Pond, but made it safely back to shore.

Latti says the recent weather is making it harder to read the ice.

"Where we had a big rainstorm just recently, a lot of areas that had frozen with a thin shell of ice reopened," Latti says. "So you've got areas where there may be safe ice near the shore but it's very treacherous as you go out deeper. So always check the ice, and be careful before going out."

Latti recommends checking ice thickness with an auger, chisel or axe, and avoiding any areas with less than 4-6 inches of hard ice.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.