Farmers take matters into their own hands

By Murray Robertson at Gisborne Herald

Dogs have been mauling sheep on farms in the Patutahi and Waituhi settlements near Gisborne. Photo / 123RF
Dogs have been mauling sheep on farms in the Patutahi and Waituhi settlements near Gisborne. Photo / 123RF

A Waituhi farmer and his neighbours near Patutahi have shot several dogs found mauling their sheep flocks.

The farmers are sick of the problem, which has cost them thousands of dollars. So they have taken matters into their own hands.

In one recent episode, 17 animals were killed in one paddock over the course of a single day.

Warwick Stevens, from Hukiwai Station at Waituhi, estimates he lost around $5000-worth of stock to marauding dogs in the space of a week.

"I lost 17 animals in one paddock in one day."

Last week he shot four dogs worrying stock on his lease property in Renners Rd at Patutahi. He shot one more at the weekend.

Stevens was hit hard by stock worrying three years ago.

"We lost about 30 animals on that occasion, many of them ewes with lambs at foot. The lambs were left orphans.

"For a year or two the stock worrying problem out here was quite quiet, but it has picked up again since March when sheep were introduced on to cropping land in the area.

"My neighbours and I are all carrying guns when we move about our farms at present, and we shoot any dogs we see on our properties."

Council limited in response

Stevens said they took action after discussions with Gisborne District Council animal control staff.

"They are limited in what they can do. They can seize the dogs and take them to the pound. We, on the other hand, are free to deal with the problem the way we have been."

Stevens said many of the sheep he lost were badly injured.

"The dogs operate together. One would rip the hamstring on one of their hindquarters while the other went for the throat.

"There is not a lot you can do with animals that are badly injured, apart from putting them out of their misery.

"If they have been injured and treated with antibiotics, then they get rejected when they go to a meat processing plant."

Stevens said he and his neighbours had had a gutsful of the problem.

"It is a terrible thing to see a sheep being mauled by a dog, which happened for me last week.

"I saw two dogs circling one of my mobs until they had them in a tight bunch, and then the dogs dived in and attacked them.

"They were not big dogs. Foxy and Jack Russell cross-sized dogs. They seemed to be doing it for sport."

Stevens said he and his neighbours wished more dog owners in the Patutahi-Waituhi area would register their animals and keep them under better control.

"Four of the five dogs I shot were not registered.

"No one likes having to shoot other people's dogs.

But I have to live and earn a living out here," he said.

"We need more back-up from the council's dog rangers to help curb the problem."

- Gisborne Herald

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