Farmers are calling for stricter rules surrounding dog control after 18 reports of dog attacks on livestock in 2019.
Over the past month alone there have been 12 reports of dogs "worrying" stock - a lesser form of attack - and 143 sheep killed in different locations, causing financial and emotional distress to landowners.
About nine farmers met with Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst today and discussed the situation and how to address it.
Farmer spokeswoman Denise Davis, who had five properties targeted by roaming dogs, said although there were dog attacks on stock in 2018, it was nowhere near the scale seen this month, resulting in a significant loss of revenue.
"It's not just from the loss of the animals, it's also employing someone to dispose of the carcases, the vet bills for the injured sheep and then there is the stress affecting the rest of the flock, and their productivity.
"We take great pride in finishing our stock well and it's devastating – all of us are up throughout the night monitoring the stock – we need these dog owners to be responsible, to tie their dogs up at night and know where they are during the day, and they need to be accountable."
On behalf of the farmers she called for current legislation to be reviewed to better protect livestock and make irresponsible dog owners more liable.
"In the meantime we know moonlit nights are a problem and are preparing for the next full moon in July – any help the community can give us by reporting wandering dogs would be appreciated."
Hazlehurst said the council was committed to helping the community find a solution, in an area where there was a lot of stock and a mix of rural and urban properties.
"We've seen some horrific cases of dog attacks and we are all coming together to say these dogs need to be found and the owners prosecuted.
"I will be working with our local MP to say we need to look at the legislation – it's old and needs to be updated – and we are going to work hard to ensure all the district's dogs are microchipped and that dog owners are held accountable for the damage that's caused."
Regulatory solutions manager John Payne said of the attacks to date, five dogs had been impounded at the council's animal control centre, three summary prosecutions were pending, and two dogs involved in "worrying" incidents had been returned to their owners who were fined.
In May the council's after-hours staff reported 84 roaming dogs and 15 roaming stock.
For June to date there's been reports of 61 roaming dogs and 12 roaming stock.