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Patrols increase cver frozen Lake Erie

By Leslie Church

Buffalo, NY – Ice fishing is a popular winter past-time for some Erie County residents, but it can also be a dangerous sport. Now that Lake Erie is almost totally frozen over, the county sheriff's department is stepping up its patrols of the lake to make sure fisherman don't get stuck on the ice. It's called the Sundowner Patrol -- the county's Air One helicopter will make daily flights around the lake's shorelines at dusk looking for trapped fishermen.

Sheriff Tim Howard warns weather conditions can quickly change on the lake.

"While we do this we are trying to warn people to pay attention to changing weather conditions," he said. "And again as they go out onto the ice, the further out they go, the more dangerous it becomes, because of water and changes in the direction of the air flow that moves ice and changes where the openings do occur in the ice."

Now in its 22nd year, Howard said the Sundowner Patrol once rescued 35 people during a single winter season.