Rubbish left by visitors to Dartmoor. Photo: Dartmoor NPA

Rubbish left by visitors to Dartmoor. Photo: Dartmoor NPA

Rangers in Dartmoor have faced abuse from irresponsible visitors as lockdown rules are eased.

The national park authority said the behaviour is unacceptable and police are supporting its staff to tackle the problem.

It said barbecues and open fires, despite the high fire risk, piles of discarded rubbish including used barbecues, parking blocking people’s drives and farm gates, social distancing forgotten, were just a few of the things witnessed.

The authority reiterated its appreciation and thanks to the majority of people who were doing the right thing, appreciating the special qualities of the national park and said it was the minority spoiling it for the majority.

As the weekend approached, Dartmoor National Park Authority chief executive Kevin Bishop reminded visitors to the national park to act responsibly.

He said: “I know the lockdown has been long and difficult for many and now restrictions are eased people have been coming to Dartmoor to enjoy the fresh air and fine weather.

“Rangers are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and while I’m delighted to hear the majority of people are being responsible it saddens me to hear and see the results of some people’s behaviour.

“People having barbecues and picnics and leaving their rubbish strewn over the moor is not acceptable and staying overnight in a tent or a camper van is still not allowed.

“We’ve already asked people not to bring portable barbecues to Dartmoor because of the increased fire risk. Glass bottles and discarded cigarettes all pose a very real risk to the tinder-dry moor.

“These fires spread very quickly and are absolutely devastating to the Dartmoor communities and wildlife including moorland birds which are nesting on the ground, and cattle and ponies.”

He said he was concerned at anti-social behaviour experienced by staff.

“It is unacceptable that rangers are being subjected to abuse by a minority of people when they are just trying to look after Dartmoor, helping people enjoy it safely and responsibly.

“We are in direct contact with police over these types of issues and very grateful for their continued and active support. We will not tolerate any type of anti-social behaviour that impacts on staff or can potentially damage Dartmoor’s special environment and will not hesitate in taking further action.

“Our task remains unchanged; rangers will continue their patrols to ensure the safety of visitors, encouraging people to respect the environment and to look after the national park.”

More information is on the Dartmoor national park website.

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