TRADING Standards officers have warned farmers against illegal dumping of dead animals - especially during the current foot and mouth crisis.

The North Yorkshire experts spoke out after they successfully prosecuted two farmers for illegally disposing of livestock parts.

Kenneth Brown of Brignam Park, Malton Road, Pickering appeared at Pickering magistrates court facing two charges relating to the improper disposal of cow body parts. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay fines and costs amounting to £1,000.

A second case, at Scarborough magistrates court, resulted in costs and fines of £400 for Matthew Thomas Jeffrey, now of East Lothian, Scotland, who pleaded guilty to improper disposal of a sheep carcass.

Trading standards officers said after the case that illegally disposing of animals was highly irresponsible, especially during the current foot and mouth crisis, and could lead to the spread of infection and cause other diseases. They warned officers will investigate anyone found responsible for dumping animal carcasses.

Stuart Pudney, head of trading standards and regulatory services, said: "There's no excuse for dumping animals. Those doing it know it is against the law and that their actions risk spreading the disease.

"It is also unfair when the vast majority of farmers and landowners are taking precautions and following advice in order to eradicate the disease and protect others."

Movement to slaughter licences are available by calling the county council's foot and mouth helpline on (01609) 532765.

Trading Standards officers in the county have been struggling to cope with the steep increase in disease investigations.

They are looking into many reports of alleged illegal movement of animals and farmers straying off marked routes when moving animals for slaughter.

More staff have had to be recruited to deal with work linked to the foot and mouth crisis.

Updated: 09:28 Thursday, May 31, 2001