The recent hot weather has led to a 'huge increase' in littering in the Yorkshire Dales, according to the National Park's head ranger.
Rubbish is a problem for the park all the year round, from the mysterious and ever-present dog poo bags left hanging on fences and trees (the mystery being who really thinks this is OK) to drinks bottles and food wrappers discarded along footpaths. But littering increases dramatically when the summer arrives, says Alan Hulme, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Head of Ranger Services.
'Rangers and Dales Volunteers have already noticed a huge increase in the amount of rubbish dumped in the fragile landscape over the past two weeks – everything from used disposable barbeques and soiled nappies to empty bottles and plastic food containers' he explained.
'The warm weather means we see far more people coming into the National Park and, while the vast majority are responsible and caring enough to take their litter home, there are always some thoughtless litterbugs who are too selfish or lazy to do that.'
'Instead they create an eyesore for other visitors and potentially fatal dangers for wildlife. Animals can easily get their heads or bodies stuck in discarded jars and cans and six-pack plastic loops, and that can lead to a slow, painful death.'
Discarded bottles can be a hazard in sunny weather too, acting as magnifying glasses and starting fires.
'When the vegetation is dry [this] could be absolutely devastating for the landscape and the wildlife' warns Hulme.
In the area of the National Park covered by Craven District Council, Rangers have been given the power to issue fixed penalty notices to people who leave litter behind or fail to clean up after their pets.