Bay of Plenty Regional Council is "appalled'' at a collection of about two and a half tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish along a 200 metre stretch of the Wairoa River.
The rubbish collected included 18 tyres, batteries, engines, car parts, computers, televisions, construction and demolition waste, household rubbish and a rotten pig's head.
Pollution prevention team leader Annabelle Ellis said the worst affected area was the layby alongside the river off Te Puna Station Rd.
"Six sheep guts, skins and heads were also recovered from the river following an earlier complaint about dumping
into the river two weeks ago,'' Ms Ellis said.
"It would appear sheep were taken for meat and were stolen from nearby farms. Police were alerted at the time, along with some adjoining landowners.
"With the whitebait season starting it's really appalling to see our beautiful rivers and streams treated like sewers and dumping grounds. We are trying really hard to improve water quality, but the real solution is someone stepping forward to identify the culprits,'' she said.
"These sheep will be a big loss for farmers as they were all heavily in-lamb ewes. The people responsible obviously have no regard for animal welfare, people's property or the environment.''
Western Bay of Plenty District Council, which shared the cost of removing the rubbish, has erected signs in the area warning of fines of $500 and prosecution for anyone caught dumping.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council utilities environmental and compliance officer Ilze Kruis said the council faced sky rocketing bills for illegal dumping.
She urged people to report any dumping they saw, and ensure they recorded details of vehicles, people's clothing
and time of day so that a prosecution could be taken. The Council had recorded about three cases a day of illegal dumping, with a major dumping of tyres, carcases and other rubbish on No 4 Road Te Puke recorded recently.
"People need to speak up, and communities need to stand together to stop this happening in their neighbourhoods, especially in remote areas. The high cost of cleaning up is coming out of their rates,'' she said.
Any suspicious activity or illegal dumping should be reported to police or Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883