An investigation was under way last night after dozens of dead chickens were dumped in Co Tyrone.
The carcasses of up to 100 broiler-type birds were discovered yesterday in a river off the Lurganmore Road near Ballygawley, but it is thought they may have been there since before Christmas.
A number of dead calves, mattresses and agricultural waste including plastic silo bags were also thrown down the ravine just metres from the remote country road.
The BBC last night claimed to have found paperwork from a Moy Park poultry farm close to the scene.
The poultry company said it was investigating the matter but stressed that there was no evidence to link the company or any of its contractors to the find.
“It is appaling to see animals disposed of in this way,” said Moy Park spokesman Gareth Jones.
“We are going to investigate, but these birds are in no way linked to a contractor that works for us, until we know otherwise.
“We have 400 farmers across Northern Ireland who work with us. They all have a very clear set of rules to which they adhere in terms of every aspect of their work, including the disposal of dead birds.”
Public representatives in the area have warned that the rotting poultry and animals could pose a severe health risk.
Throughout yesterday representatives from Dungannon and South Tyrone Council’s environmental health department carried out an inspection of the scene and has informed the DoE’s crime branch.
Last night a spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) said: “NIEA are aware of this site and are investigating the issues raised. Our prior information suggests that the situation is of relatively small-scale fly-tipping which has been exacerbated by the dumping of dead poultry on the site. Necessary action will be determined after an investigation.”
Meanwhile, DUP councillor in the area, Sammy Brush, said the owner of the dead poultry must be traced.
“This needs to be fully investigated. I want to see the full vigour of the law enforced here, if at all possible, so that it acts as a deterrent for others not to take such an irresponsible attitude towards the health of animals and humans. This is a health hazard to all living creatures.
“It’s a terrible disgrace that someone would be so irresponsible as to let so many birds die or to destroy them and then dump them. I can’t understand the mentality behind that sort of neglect.
“Illegal dumping has been a problem in the area from time to time but you would have thought people would be better educated that to dump a load of dead animals at the side of the road. It’s completely irresponsible to spread disease and polluting rivers like this.”
SDLP man Anthony McGonnell said illegal dumping had been a problem in the area for some time.
“Some chancer has decided to use this fairly quiet road which is thinly populated to dump their rubbish and cause an environmental hazard. It is disgraceful.
“Illegal dumping had been a problem for a while in other parts of the council area but that had been stopped.
“There is one legal dump at Tullyvar but you can’t take animal waste there. There is a licensed way of disposing of animal waste but this person has obviously decided they don’t want to pay for the service.”