Travellers have wrecked an Allerton Bywater nature reserve say angry residents after breaking onto the site and setting up camp.
The travellers broke though metal gates to get onto the site on Sunday September 29, driving heavy vehicles across the field of the reserve on Station Road.
In the four days they were there, they also cut down trees, started fires and used hedges as toilets.
One resident, who was too frightened to be named, said: “They caused absolute mayhem in the village. They were intimidating, there was anti-social behaviour.
“The council acted quickly, but it’s a nature reserve and I’m so saddened at the state it’s in.
“It was such a beautiful area and they have left it unrecognisable. It’s a well-used area for dog walkers and children. It’s not a muddy place, but the ground is so churned up it’s a muddy mess.”
She said her husband saw four or five vehicles ram the gates to get onto the site, and vehicles had churned up the meadow, torn down fencing, strewn rubbish across the reserve and cut down trees, which were left blocking a footpath.
She added: “It’s just ridiculous what they have done, the council were out cleaning up, but it’s going to take months for the reserve to recover.
“Normally we hear birds and animals over there at night, but last night after the travellers went, it was deathly quiet.
“I don’t know if they’ve disturbed the habitat, but I’m concerned it will take wildlife a long time to come back.”
A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “The process was started to get a possession order through the county court, but we didn’t need to use it because the travellers had already gone.
“We are aware of the site and will be tidying up and making repairs as early as possible.”