OWNERS of pitbull-type dogs in Burnley are training their animals to fight in the town’s parks.
Police, council bosses and conservationists have slammed the training sessions, which have encouraged the pets to savage trees along Towneley Holmes Road in Towneley Park.
Burnley Borough Council has put up signs urging people to report the practice, which is believed to be taking place at night and early in the morning and police are asking for witnesses to come forward.
Posters have also been put up in Bank Hall park and Burnley Cemetery.
Mrs Maureen Frankland, chairman of the Friends of Towneley Park, said: “It’s dreadful. It’s such a pity when there’s so much good work going on in the park that a few people will risk spoiling it for everyone.
“We don’t know if the people doing this are local or from out of the area.
“Apparently this is the kind of thing they do to get them to attack.”
The council’s head of greenspaces, Mr Simon Goff, added: “This is an issue that’s happening all over the country, not just in Burnley. People are setting their dogs on to the trunks of the trees which damages the bark and ultimately can kill the tree.
“It’s criminal damage and costs taxpayers if we have to replace damaged trees, and even more worrying is that the dog owners are training their dogs to fight.
“It’s unacceptable and our rangers have been instructed to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour. We’d also ask members of the public who see dogs attacking trees to report it to the rangers.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We would urge anyone who has witnessed these kinds of incidents to come forward and contact Burnley Police.”
He said there had been at least two recent reports of dogs being set on trees in Towneley Park.
Anyone wanting to report any incidents should call the council on 01282 831053.