PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Temperatures may be slowly warming, but given the extreme cold weather of the past few months, an official with the Maine Warden Service indicate there’s still some good snowmobiling to be had in the coming weeks.

Lt. Tom Ward said this season has been a relatively safe one in Aroostook.

“No fatals have occurred in Division E (Aroostook, northern Piscataquis and Penobscot counties); I’ve heard about three statewide,” said Ward.

He said wardens find this time of year to be a balancing act, when it comes to duties.

“Wardens do a good job of balancing their job tasks this time of year and focus on ice fishing enforcement as well as snowmobile enforcement. There is no set schedule or time frame for them to be out and they mix it up well,” said Ward.

“We focus much of our efforts in high-use, high-complaint areas. We also take into account areas where crashes have occurred due to excessive speed and place a priority in that general area,” Ward continued.

Ward said the Warden Service has investigated some personal injury crashes, with most of the incidents they look into involving “some sort of speed issue.”

“These instances involve things like overdriving the machine, operating too fast for the conditions or being unfamiliar with the trail,” he said.

Ward said Maine — and especially Aroostook County — offers ideal opportunities for snowmobilers.

“Snowmobiling is a great sport and the hundreds of miles of well-groomed trails offer folks an opportunity to see places they can’t get to other times of the year. The vast majority of operators we see are very responsible while they are on their machines, but speed is one of the biggest factors when a crash occurs. It’s important to always ‘ride right, ride responsibly,’” said Ward.

He said while some outdoor enthusiasts opted to take advantage of the record snowfall in southern Maine this winter, many still ventured north to enjoy snowmobiling in The County.

“This year, there has been a large amount of snowfall in central and southern Maine; they (snowmobilers) are experiencing excellent trail riding as well. Sled traffic up north has been steady, but I suspect some folks are staying closer to their homes to ride instead of traveling,” said Ward, noting the season isn’t over here just yet. “I think we’ll have some excellent riding well into March this year too.”

Ward said safety is a major concern, especially during extreme weather conditions.

“The MWS has conducted some searches this winter for snowmobilers who have not told someone where they are riding to. Cell phones are not reliable and often won’t work in much of this area, so it’s very important to let somebody know where you are going and what time you’ll be back. With the sub-zero temperatures we’ve experienced this winter, this could be life-threatening if you aren’t prepared and haven’t advised someone of your route. Incidents of this nature are very preventable,” said Ward.

He credited local organizations for providing some of the best trails available anywhere.

“The area clubs work hard to maintain and care for these excellent trails, so take the time to thank and support these organizations. This dedicated effort the club members and groomer operators put into these trails is awesome. Landowners are gracious enough to allow sleds to cross thousands of acres of private property, so it’s very important operators adhere to their rules,” said Ward. “We’ve had several complaints this year around woods operations; it’s crucial that snowmobilers slow down and pay attention when logging traffic shares that stretch of trail/road.”