A FARMER fears foot-and-mouth could be carried to his herd of wild boar by horseriders.

Despite assurances, Ian Fewster, of Lowfield Farm, Dalton Piercy, Hartlepool, near Teesside, is worried the disease may be spread by horseriders using lanes and shared accesses to farms.

Mr Fewster said: "A horse rider can easily set off from around here and ride to Stillington, passing the infected farms. They could then return to Hartlepool using shared access routes and country lanes, which would result in them coming within a few feet of livestock."

It is the responsibility of the local authority to close bridleways and footpaths, something which Hartlepool Borough Council has done.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said: "If the public rights of way remain open, then horse owners, along with the public, are free to use them."

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