Far North farmers under siege from feral dogs hope a public meeting next week will spur authorities to act before more stock is killed or a person is attacked.
Today marks three weeks of all-night vigils at Shenstone Farms, near Cape Rēinga, which has lost at least 136 lambs, ewes and goats to attacks by packs of wild dogs since June 30.
The dogs, which emerge mostly at night, are thought to live in neighbouring bush and scrubland.
The Nilsson family, helped by local farmers and hunters using rifles fitted with thermal scopes, have been to forced to guard their stock every night since then.
Anne-Marie Nilsson said fatigue was taking its toll but they had no choice.
''People ask us how long we'll keep going but if we stop we'll have no stock in three days. They'd be ripped to bits. It's our farm, our livelihood, it's just what we do,'' she said.
The nightly vigils had kept losses down after the first few horrific nights but even as Nilsson was speaking to the Advocate she found another dead goat which had belonged to her teenage daughter's angora herd.
The nanny goat had been two weeks away from having kids, she said.
Earlier in the day she had to put down another lamb which was not recovering from its injuries, despite the efforts of a vet and a foster family.
''So it's all pretty heart wrenching,'' she said.
Nilsson is now pinning her hopes on a public meeting at Houhora Big Game and Sports Fishing Club from 10am on July 28.
The Northland Regional Council, Far North District Council, MPI and DoC were expected to send representatives. A Zoom facility will be set up for anyone who couldn't attend in person.
There will also be a public forum so anyone who wanted to speak could do so.
Nilsson hoped the authorities would at least acknowledge there was problem.
Feral dogs were not currently recognised as pests in the regional council's pest management plan, which limited what other agencies could do.
The district council, for example, could only trap dogs and destroy them if they were unclaimed after nine days.
''We need these dogs recognised as a super-predator, rather than just as a stray dogs issue.''
So far the agencies involved had been ''dancing around the issue'', Nilsson said.
''Even if one jumped up and bit them on the arse they'd still say there are no dogs.''
The dogs have proved hard to shoot with recent poor weather giving them extra cover. At least three have been shot on the farm, along with two, one fatally, that threatened mussel spat collectors on nearby Ninety Mile Beach.
■ A family friend has set up a Givealittle page to help the Nilssons pay vet and feed bills relating to the attacks. Go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-northland-farmers-defend-their-farm-against to donate. As of Wednesday just under $2000 had been raised.