The Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Warden Service invite you to safely enjoy the recreational opportunities available on our waterways. Wisconsin is rich with locations to enjoy time on the water, including more than 15,000 lakes and many miles of rivers in addition to access to Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and the Mississippi River.

This regulations handbook is provided to give you knowledge of Wisconsin’s boating laws. It also includes safety tips and recommended practices. If you have additional questions, contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources information desk at 1-888-936-7463 or visit dnr.wi.gov. Federal laws can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard’s website at www.uscgboating.org.

Many of you are already experienced boaters; so as you take to the water this year, please take the time to educate a person who may be new to boating by explaining safe boating practices, laws, and rules. Experienced and novice boaters alike need to be mindful that our waters are being shared by many users of varied interests, so always be respectful of others.

Historically, most of Wisconsin’s boating fatalities have occurred in small boats with victims who were not wearing life jackets. Sadly, this trend continues today. Keep in mind that when you need your life jacket, you need to be wearing it.

Statistics show that many accidents involve the use of alcohol and drugs. Don’t mix alcohol with boat operation. If alcohol is going to be involved in your day of boating, have a designated operator. Operating a boat is no different than driving an automobile.

Wisconsin Conservation Wardens want you to have an enjoyable and safe boating experience on Wisconsin’s waters.

Bureau of Law Enforcement
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources