A WARNING has gone out to illegal quad and motorbike riders who have3 been caught in a County Durham forest.

The Forestry Commission has appealed for information after catching two quad bikes in Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland, on Sunday, February 10.

In a Facebook post, forest bosses said: "Please help us stop illegal quad and motorbike riding in Hamsterley Forest. Contact 101 at once and also take photos and share so we can all work to stop illegal access now. We need your help folks."

An image of the quad bikers caught in action showed them riding on the K-Line mountain bike trail section while other images, including those of the vehicles used to carry the bikes, have been forwarded to the police.

The post went on to say: "These companies should now be expecting a visit by police asking why their vehicles were seen carrying quad bikes to allow illegal riding in Hamsterley Forest.

"We are a friendly bunch of folk though and we are sharing on Facebook; we are working with the police and other agencies and we will go for prosecution if someone is caught.

"So if you are reading this and are one of the offenders who come into Hamsterley Forest you are just rolling the dice until you are caught - if caught bikes and vehicles used can be seized on the spot by police.

"This could well mean you do not have a vehicle the following morning for work, or you have some explaining to do with your employer on why the works vehicle is seized.

"We do hope everyone who enjoys the forest legally can understand our reason for our tone of this message (sorry we need to be straight to the point), we want everyone to enjoy the forest and not be troubled by this illegal activity.

Just to add there is a legal byway that runs North to South but sadly that has also been badly damaged at Drs Gate and also illegal activity taking place on neighbouring protected land off the byway itself.

"The issue shared here is about illegal access as shown in the image and also generally unroadworthy vehicles, 4x4s, bikes and quads being used.

Hamsterley Forest land (all of it) has the same laws as the public highway so all vehicles must be highway legal at all times."

A spokesperson for the Hamsterley Trailblazers - a group of mountain bikers who use the forest - added: "It’s only good luck and vigilance that this kind of selfish and illegal activity hasn’t seriously hurt or killed a forest user yet. Whether you are a pedestrian horse rider or cyclist, these people are putting us all in danger. Please be careful out there, report them if you see them and continue to enjoy our forest responsibly."

If you have information call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.