Northland feral dogs: Sharpshooters watch through night

From RNZ

About 100 feral dogs are estimated to be roaming the Far North, with sharpshooters keeping vigil over one farm where dozens of animals have been mauled.

Last week, more than 120 ewes and lambs were killed at the Nilsson’s property near Cape Reinga.

Over the weekend, volunteers from across the region headed to the farm to help try to eliminate the dogs. Anne-Marie Nilsson said the support had been incredible.

They tried to flush the dogs out of a section of forest where the animals were believed to have been living, but she said the volunteers did not manage to get any.

“But what was successful was we had so many people turn up and we had Department of Conservation on deck for that as well, so there’s a level of co-operation happening that’s really admirable – I’m so happy about it,” Nilsson said.

Other volunteers had been guarding their flock every night – the Nilssons lost one ewe last night but also shot one dog.

“They give up their night’s rest because they have to stay awake the whole night, and in the cold and the wet and the rain and just how humbling is that? New Zealanders are awesome, our people are just fantastic,” Nilsson said.

Farm workers were starting to learn more about how the feral dogs worked. Nilsson saidthey had earlier thought about 14 dogs were targeting their stock, but it was now likely to be more than 20 – some with pups.

They were using new methods to lure them onto the property, including a female dog in heat in a caged kennel.

“Out there smelling very alluring, I’m sure she’s got Chanel No.5 and we’re hoping that some of the feral dogs will be fooled by that.”

The farm has also been donated terminal cows, which are being used as bait.

After speaking to forestry block owners and other farmers over the weekend, Nilsson now estimated 100 feral dogs were roaming north of Te Kao.

Nilsson wants the district council to change a bylaw reclassifying some dogs as feral, which would give authorities great powers to control them.

“If we don’t get something done – if the district council can’t change their bylaws and we can’t get some sort of management processes, these dogs won’t stop at animals – one day it’s going to be a child.”

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