WILDLIFE experts have warned that fly-tippers are putting people and animals at risk by dumping hazardous waste in the New Forest.

National Trust staff have spoken out after the latest in a spate of incidents involving rubbish being left being strewn across parts of Rockford Common, near Ringwood.

Rockford is one of several commons in the north of the Forest which are owned by the Trust.

A spokesman said: "Over the past year Rockford has been used as a dumping ground for large amounts of hazardous materials and non-native plant waste, putting the common’s many users at risk of harm, from dog walkers to grazing livestock.

"Rockford’s rare wildlife is also likely to be affected because of damage to fragile heathland habitats.

"The National Trust’s New Forest team acted immediately to clear the latest rubbish and will remain vigilant for any further incidences.

"They are working with the police and the district council to make the site more secure."

National Trust community ranger Jennifer Sutton added: "Many young families, children and dogs use Rockford Common but we’re worried that this kind of hazardous litter could cause an injury.

“Sharp objects such as nails can cause great harm to grazing ponies and dogs, and plastics can make livestock and wildlife very ill if it's swallowed.

"Hazardous paint can cause far-reaching damage.

"The New Forest is an internationally protected site of special scientific interest so this increase in fly-tipping is incredibly disheartening."

Anyone with information about fly-tipping is asked to call Hampshire police on 101 or the National Trust's New Forest office on 01425 650035.