Bank Holiday visitors to the Yorkshire Dales National Park are being asked to lend a hand in looking after the landscape by taking their rubbish home. It should go without saying, but sadly not.
'Lazy litter louts' are potentially endangering wildlife as well as creating an eyesore, according to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Head of Ranger Services, Alan Hulme.
'A small minority of people who can't be bothered to clear up after themselves – either because they are too thoughtless or too lazy to take it home – are spoiling this very special landscape for everyone else' he said.
'They are leaving all sorts of things behind – from disposable barbeques to drinks cans – and they don't seem to realize that it can be harmful to wildlife as well as being unsightly. Animals can easily get their heads stuck in discarded food jars and cans and cut themselves on jagged metal edges. In addition, glass bottles can start fires in hot weather by magnifying the sun's rays.'
After the widespread moorland fires during dry weather this spring that point is particularly pertinent.
'As well as asking visitors to take their rubbish home, we would ask others to report anyone they see leaving rubbish behind to any of our Rangers' says Alan Hulme.
Last September the National Park Authority teamed up with Craven District Council to launch a pilot scheme in the Lower Wharfedale area to tackle some of the anti-social behaviour that impacts on both locals and visitors to the area. Two Authority Rangers now have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to people who leave litter behind and to dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets. The issuing of fines by Park Rangers is not commonplace in Britain, but another recent example is the wild camping ban beside Loch Lomond reported on UKH here. Are we seeing a new trend?
Another problem for the Dales is the popularity of Chinese lanterns, according to Alan Hulme.
Newspapers report that mountain rescue teams around the country have been called out after sightings of 'distress flares', only to find they are lanterns. There is also the risk that, in dry conditions, they could start fires when they land.
In June Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said people should think twice about using sky lanterns at celebrations because they are causing problems in the countryside. He said that after floating for many miles and falling to earth the burnt-out remnants could hurt livestock and litter fields.
Farmers have reported that sheep, cattle and horses are being injured, and in some cases dying, from eating the metal wire frames, which pierce their internal organs.
Malcolm Petyt, the Authority's Member Champion for Recreation Management, said: 'These lanterns may seem a fun way of celebrating some happy event, but please think of the possible consequences for other people affected by them.'