Fourteen sheep were found bound and crammed into a car stopped by police in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere early today.

Police described the treatment of the sheep as "disgusting and an unnecessary act of cruelty".

Two men, 23 and 16, were arrested and are expected to appear in Hastings District Court today.

Sergeant Eden Sewell said police tried to stop a Mazda four-door saloon in Flaxmere about 3am.

A short pursuit took place and occupants ran from the car when it stopped in a local park.

"Police recovered 14 sheep from the boot and interior," Mr Sewell said.

All had been bound with ropes and crammed into the wheel well and the foot wells of the back seat.

"The sheep were all stolen from local farms and were very distressed. Animal control attended and removed the sheep, two of which have died as a result of the treatment," he said.

The condition of the remaining 12 was not known.

Mr Sewell said investigations were continuing and police wanted to hear from anyone who had had stock stolen recently.