VISITORS to the Yorkshire Dales National Park are being asked to make a special effort to clean up after a massive increase in litterbugging over the last fortnight.

The warm weather has seen thousands pour into the park's beautyspots but a minority are leaving their rubbish behind for others to pick up.

The authority says litter is an issue year round with dog poo bags left hanging off fences and bottles and food wrappers casually dumped on paths.

But it gets worse every summer and this one has been no different, they said.

Alan Hulme, the authority’s head of ranger services, said they had heaps of waste from used barbeques to soiled nappies, empty bottles and plastic food containers.

“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," said Mr Hulme.

“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 also cause another problem in sunny weather – they can act as magnifying glasses and start fires which, when the vegetation is dry, could be absolutely devastating for the landscape and the wildlife.”

In the part of the National Park covered by Craven District Council, the rangers covering the Lower Wharfedale beat have been given powers to issue fixed penalty notices on those who leave litter behind, or to dog owners failing to clean up.