A Surf Coast cattle farmer has just three days to remove dozens of rotting dead cows found dumped near a creek bank.
A "horrific" stench led nearby residents to Thompson Creek - which runs from Breamlea to Modewarre - where they say they found the carcasses of 36 cows, allegedly starved and neglected.
The Environment Protection Authority confirmed to the Geelong Advertiser on Thursday that a farmer had been given until the end of this weekend to clean up the horrifying scene.
"The method of disposal could create a pollution issue so EPA has given the property owner direction to correctly dispose of dead stock, in line with our advice on these matters," it said.
"The property owner has committed to removing the dead animals this weekend. EPA will reinspect the site next week to ensure this has occurred."
One resident, who did not wish to be named, believed that some of the bodies were dumped during summer and perished during a heatwave at the end of February, while others had appeared to have been there for months.
"Once we got closer, the stench was horrendous; it made us feel sick," they said.
"Some were very decomposed, while others were brand new and bloated.
"I was shocked, then devastated and then angry. I was crushed for the cattle."
Another resident said the dead cows spanned "hundreds of metres".
"It was horrific - it just kept going and going. It was very confronting," they said.
"The bodies appeared to be in various stages of decomposition, some were a year old, while others were weeks old."
The cause of the death of the animals has not been determined.
It is understood Agriculture Victoria inspectors visited a property near the creek on Tuesday, but did not identify any concerns about animal welfare.
But Torquay-based MP Andy Meddick labelled the actions as a "clear example" of animal cruelty and "disregard" to the environment and human health, and said he has alerted the Agriculture Minister.
"I expect a swift and decisive action in terms of an investigation, and charges being laid where appropriate, and if proven, then penalties at the upper end of the scale," Mr Meddick said.
"The community is sick and tired of perpetrators of animal cruelty no matter the setting, getting away with fines, warnings and second chances."
The Surf Coast Shire's general manager of environment and development Ransce Salan
said council was supporting the EPA with the matter.
"The EPA is responsible for co-ordinating actions to remove the environmental and public safety risks, and we will assist in any way we can," Mr Salan said.
"Council cannot override the EPA's powers."
The finding comes after residents alerted council last year that a Mount Duneed farm at Dickins Road was potentially operating as an intensive animal production without a planning permit.
The residents claim the property was operating with excessive stock numbers and disregard for permits and animal welfare.
Councillor Heather Wellington suggested a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal investigation, but council voted down further pursuant of the matter.
Originally published as Dead cows dumped in creek horrifies local residents