The Marine and Trail Enforcement Bureau is staffed year round, full time by two deputies and one sergeant. During the summer, several other deputies for boat patrol staffing augment the unit. The primary focus of the unit includes boat patrol, snowmobile patrol, and ATV patrol. All three of these patrol functions are funded in large part by the DNR through a reimbursement program.
The unit is responsible for patrol/enforcement of Dane County lakes year round. Although there are 37 lakes within Dane County, boat patrol is primarily focused on lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. Response to lake rescues, accidents or drowning investigations include all the county lakes as well as 14 miles of the Wisconsin River. The unit has a patrol boat housed on each of the four main lakes, with two boats on the largest lake (Mendota). An additional boat is kept on a trailer for response to the outlying lakes. To view photos of boats and other equipment click on the Photo Gallery link in the left column, or click here.
Due to the unique nature of the responsibilities of the Marine and Trail Enforcement Bureau, the staff is each assigned a take home four-wheel drive squad. The vehicles are used to tow all of the previously mentioned equipment, as well as carry various types of rescue equipment. The staff are assigned pagers and are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when in the county.
With well over 25,000 registered boats in Dane County, and an increasing amount of tourist boating traffic, the summer boat patrol period is very busy with enforcement of the laws, investigation of accidents, and rescue operations. A very important component of keeping the lakes safe and enforcing the law is boating safety education. The Sheriff's Office strongly encourages all boaters to take a boater safety course. For information on where a class is available, please call 608-275-3266. To view an online list of Boat Safety classes currently offered by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, click here
During the winter months, the unit continues to patrol to the lakes to enforce the Dane County Ordinance on Icebound Waters which restricts operation of motorized vehicles and requires flotation under certain circumstances.
Due to the popularity of ice fishing on the Dane County lakes, and the always fluctuating weather, the unit spends a considerable amount of time responding to ice rescue calls. In addition, the ice ordinance requires the unit to inspect all flotation devices and issue permits.
For information regarding ice permits, floatation requirements, inspection location, and dates, click here.
Dane County has a tremendous snowmobile trail system with over 300 miles of marked trails. Although winters of recent years have limited the amount of useable snow cover, the unit also patrols the county's trail system enforcing snowmobile laws and investigating accidents. Two snowmobiles are kept in a trailer for use on patrol and response to emergencies on the trails.
For patrolling the ice, two ATV's equipped with flotation are used. When the ice is unstable and unsafe, the staff uses the airboat that allows them to move across ice or open water.
The Sheriff's Office offers an ATV safety Class at different times throughout the year. To view an online list of ATV Safety classes currently offered by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, click here.