Far North District councillor Mate Radich has offered a short-term solution to the marauding dogs that have been slaughtering sheep and goats at the top of the Aupōuri Peninsula for the last two months.
He told a public meeting at Pukenui yesterday that he would be urging the council to restore firearms to its animal control officers, on an interim basis, until the dogs had been destroyed.
Animal control officer Ken Thomas had told the meeting that he had seen a lot of stock worrying by dogs over the last 30 years, and he had shot a lot of dogs, but firearms had been removed from his staff about five years ago.
"We don't do that any more," he said, adding that the council had sold its firearms, and with no poison permitted for use against dogs the council could only trap the animals and continue endeavouring to educate owners to reduce the potential for such problems in the future.
Thomas said everything the council did in terms of dogs had to comply with the 1996 Dog Control Act. Any further measures that were currently not available would need a change in legislation.
The council had stopped shooting dogs largely in response to the public perception that they were being euthanased inhumanely.
Dogs such as those that were attacking stock on the peninsula had been dumped or were not kept under control by their owners, he said. (A DOC spokesman said later that the department did not believe there were feral dogs in the Far North, or anywhere else. There were straying or wandering dogs, but Shenstone Farm owner Anne-Marie Nilsson, who estimated her stock losses so far at $25,000, disagreed, saying she had seen the dogs breeding over almost two years. They had subsequently formed packs, and as far as he was concerned they were feral).
Thomas added that he couldn't say that the council would solve the problem, and that there was an "element of responsibility" on the part of the dogs' owners. Animal control could not shoot straying dogs, but could seize them and take them through "the process" that applied to all seized animals (re-homing or euthanasing).
Meanwhile DOC, MPI (via Zoom), the district and Northland Regional councils all undertook to work with other agencies to resolve the problem, but none of the suggested short-term solutions, including the use of strychnine (not available in New Zealand), and calling in the Army, being deemed practical.
One man said he had been poisoning the dogs, using a substance that he declined to identify, while a woman suggested trapping one and attaching a collar with a kiwi locator so hunters could find their dens.
Another speaker said shooting them would not be as easy as some might imagine.
"Fire one shot (at dogs at Te Paki) and you won't see them again for a month or two," he said.
Thomas' referral to educating dog owners was not one of the more popular suggestions.
"It's not about looking for their owners, it's about getting rid of the flipping things," she said.
"The way to get rid of these dogs is to put them down, but we can't do that," he said.