Ice fishermen can face manslaughter charge for drilling holes in a frozen lake

Did you ever think that ice anglers could be charged with manslaughter? Well read on as the following may be of great interest to you.

CBC Reports that if you drill a hole in the Ice you could face legal charges of doing so. Section 263 of the Criminal Code notes that anyone “who makes or causes to be made an opening in ice that is open to or frequented by the public is under a legal duty to guard it”.

Everyone who fails to perform a duty imposed is guilty of

  • (a) manslaughter, if the death of any person results therefrom;
  • (b) an offence under section 269, if bodily harm to any person results therefrom; or
  • (c) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

This Section of the Criminal code has led to warnings in Alberta, where a Conservation group expressed concerns that serious charges could arise if someone were to accidentally fall through ice.

The association aerates shallow lakes to provide oxygen for fish but has scaled back the program after a warning from lawyers that the group could be held liable if someone were to accidentally fall through ice on an aerated lake.

The way we see it, there are not many ice fishers that can fall through an 8” hole nor have we heard of any reports of such, so don’t sell that auger just yet. However, if you were to for some strange reason chainsaw a big rectangle in which a high diver could hit at 20 meters… you’re walking on thin ice (pardon the pun) with the law!


This Photo is what Alberta Conservation Association is trying to do to stop people from falling into the ice Photos: ACA, Colin Eyo
This Photo is what Alberta Conservation Association is trying to do to stop people from falling into the ice
Photos: ACA, Colin Eyo

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12 Replies to “Ice fishermen can face manslaughter charge for drilling holes in a frozen lake”

  1. The people drilling the holes are not the ones to be pointing fingers at. There are several online fishing shows, showing how much fun it is to sight fish and auger a hole the saw a 2 foot b 4 foot hole in the ice. I don’t want to start pointing fingers but is this really a good idea. In 2 hours after leaving and a small wind covers the ice with blown snow , we now have a trap set for people and snowmobiles . This should not be an option unless your willing to take out enough willows to mark this in a correct fashion and not just like throwing a pine bow over it. Using a few very long branches to form a tripod over it and possible some flaggers tape. Im sure this will make a few people cranky but who wants to die going for a fun day out because of someone so careless. ANYWAY Just my Opinion

  2. Well, “hole – e – cow” !! Auger-esive ice fisher men beware, but hole-d on a minute! Don’t get your Auger Electron Spectroscopy, all twisted around. You know, that analytical technique used specifically in the study of surfaces and more generally, in the area of materials science.

    I’ll fill you in on a little known technological secret in the meantime. To begin with it has been my experience as a First Class All Position Welder, round holes are not the problem. In fact they do not weaken the ice in this instance, if they are spaced at the appropriate distance. Square holes are another matter. The weakest point being, the corners of the square or rectangular shape. They tend to and will crack, no matter the size, in this area causing sufficient failure not only in the immediate area but in the surrounding area as well. Round holes on the other hand, will actually stop a crack from continuing/forming, if one should occur.

    In dealing with these “square root of 2″ phenomenons, one only has to refer to the old adage of a square peg and the round hole.

    It is a simple matter of geometrical cross matching. The answer is simple. ” A square peg will never fit into a round hole, unless said square peg is small enough or round hole is large enough.

    Don’t let yourself get too confused. The easiest way to halt any further ice damage in the immediate area, is it to drill a hole at each corner of the square, approximately 6 to 12 inches from each corner at a 45 degree angle.

    Now that that task is complete, erecting warning poles and flag markers in each of the holes , is simple and the responsible thing to do. Otherwise as I expressed earlier, the problem will spread to a much large area and no amount of warning signs will be sufficient to prevent a disaster.

    Remember, round holes do not crack but they will stop a crack from continuing. So relax Ice Anglers, you are indeed safe to be a-round. Just don’t be a square!

  3. I used to make a square hole for scooping 5 gallon buckets in to get my water for home use before I got a well in. that was a long time ago. I didn’t know about this liability issue back then.

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