Wardens offer Wisconsin River safety tips

Wardens offer Wisconsin River safety tips

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the summer boating season, wardens from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offered safety tips Sunday for those venturing out on the Wisconsin River.

According to Wardens Michael Weber and Mike Green, the river can be highly unpredictable with rapidly changing currents and high boat traffic contributing to potentially deadly situations.

“The water can go up and down two feet overnight,” Green said.

The wardens said whether you’re swimming, boating, jet skiing, or kayaking, wearing a life jacket and paying extra attention to your surroundings is always a good idea.

Kayaking has grown quite a bit over the years as a pastime along the river, Weber said. He said kayakers need to have extra awareness as they compete with boats and strong currents.

“(Be) aware what time of day it is, how many other boats are out there and things like that,” Weber said. “Especially if you’re not an expert kayaker, you haven’t done it before, it might be a good idea to practice on a smaller body of water.”

Weber and Green said cliff jumping is a major problem along the Wisconsin River, calling it a highly dangerous and illegal activity.

The fines for cliff jumping can be more than $150, but the potential for injury or death is even worse, the wardens said.

“We had one, I think it was just yesterday, (who) jumped off the cliff,” Weber said. “He was struggling to swim and his buddy was trying to help him along and they were struggling in the water, so we ended up helping him onto a boat.” 

For more tips on how to stay safe along the Wisconsin River, visit the DNR’s website