Northland lifestyle block owners devastated after roaming dogs kill dozens of livestock


Rural Kaikohe neighbours Lily Coleman and Wayne Johnston are devastated after roaming dogs killed and mauled dozens of their livestock. Photo / Jenny Ling

Residents of a rural Far North settlement want action taken after roaming dogs killed and mutilated dozens of their livestock, including sheep, lambs and chickens.

Wandering dogs have killed 34 sheep and lambs, one calf
and several chickens over the last month at three properties in Te Iringa, near Kaikohe, prompting calls for the district council to do more to hold dog owners accountable.

Lily and John Coleman, who are in their 80s, are devastated after losing 24 of their pet sheep and lambs, along with one calf and seven laying hens, and witnessing the “horrendous suffering” of many others.

The attacks happened during three separate incidents, and at least 10 sheep have also been killed at neighbouring properties.

Lily said she started out with 17 ewes, which had 22 lambs this spring.

“We thought we were going to have a bumper year because they were all doing so well.

“Now we’re left with six ewes that are limping and the vet’s been out twice.

“We’ve got about 10 lambs left and some have broken legs or injuries.

“I can’t sleep at night; every noise we hear, we think the dogs are back.”

Wandering dogs killed and mauled a number of sheep and lambs at Lily and John Coleman's property in Kaikohe. Photo / supplied
Wandering dogs killed and mauled a number of sheep and lambs at Lily and John Coleman’s property in Kaikohe. Photo / supplied

The first attack, in early September, happened during the day, when two black dogs were seen mauling one of the Coleman’s ewes.

“They bailed her up in the drain,” Lily said.

“I saw this poor sheep and was heading down to her and I saw these two dogs, one on either side of her. When they saw me, they took off.

“They had ripped her ears off, and her face was mutilated. She had to be euthanised.”

More recently, nine sheep were killed or seriously injured, along with the lambs.

During the same night, a calf was killed in its pen in the cowshed and a number of others suffered bites to their legs, the puncture wounds and swelling showing up over the ensuing days. The pensioners have had to pay $1000 for vet bills.

The Colemans also found seven laying hens dead in their henhouse the next morning.

Lily saw two tan-coloured dogs racing around another chicken coop trying to break through the netting. The dogs fled when she approached.

One of Lily Coleman's calves was mauled and another was killed by dogs during a killing spree at her lifestyle block.
One of Lily Coleman’s calves was mauled and another was killed by dogs during a killing spree at her lifestyle block.

“We didn’t know at that time they’d already killed the sheep, and they’d got in the calf pen and killed the calf and mutilated two others.

“The vet euthanised anything that looked to be suffering and wouldn’t survive, and gave antibiotics and pain relief to the others.

“The suffering of the livestock is horrendous.”

Far North District Council animal control officers brought out two traps, “but the dogs showed no interest”, Lily said.

“They never went near the traps.”

The dogs were back on Monday, and killed yet another sheep.

Lily wants “animal control to check on who’s got loose dogs and make the owners aware of what’s happening.”

“We’ve got more neighbours who have sheep and we’d hate to see the same thing happen to them.

“Once the dogs have killed all ours, they’ll carry on to the next farm if they’re still loose.

“We want it to stop.”

Wayne Johnston lost seven of his sheep to roaming dogs. With the canines still out there, there's no point having sheep on his lifestyle block any longer, he said. Photo / supplied
Wayne Johnston lost seven of his sheep to roaming dogs. With the canines still out there, there’s no point having sheep on his lifestyle block any longer, he said. Photo / supplied

Wayne Johnston, who lives nearby, believes different dogs of the same pitbull or pig dog-type breed killed seven of his sheep, which he had paddocked at a neighbour’s place.

“He came home one day and found one of the sheep dead, so he moved them to another paddock.

“The following night they came back and took the rest of them.”

Yet another neighbour lost three sheep. He managed to shoot one of the dogs, and Johnston shot another. A black dog and a tan canine are believed to be still “out there”.

Johnston said with dogs still on the loose, there’s no point him having sheep on his lifestyle block any longer.

He reported the incident to animal control but was “disappointed” in their response.

“They did pretty much nothing. They weren’t even interested in looking at the dead animals.

“This has been an ongoing problem here… What it needs is a concerted effort by everyone, otherwise it’s going to continue.”

Far North District Council environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said animal control officers “are following up on information received”.

“There have been reports of sightings and an identifiable dog description has been provided to officers,” she said.

“They are currently trying to locate the dog through property checks.”

Kaikohe resident Lily Coleman is devastated after losing 24 of her pet sheep and lambs to roaming dogs over the last few weeks. Photo / supplied
Kaikohe resident Lily Coleman is devastated after losing 24 of her pet sheep and lambs to roaming dogs over the last few weeks. Photo / supplied

If caught, there are a range of options open to Council under the Dog Control Act, including issuing a $200 infringement notice for failing to keep a dog under control, issuing a dog control notice, and prosecuting a dog owner involved in an attack.

Prosecution of a dog owner is likely for serious or multiple attacks on stock. It would then be up to the court to decide on the dog’s fate.

The council’s number one message to all dog owners, regardless of the time of year, is “to keep dogs under control at all times”, a requirement of the Dog Control Act.

There have been 17 complaints of dogs attacking livestock in the Far North so far this year. Last year, 37 incidents were reported to council.

Packs of feral dogs killed more than 120 sheep, lambs and goats at the Nilsson’s sheep and beef farm near Cape Rēinga in July 2021. Hunters tried to eliminate the dogs but were unsuccessful.

Earlier that year, a campground and several tracks in Te Paki Reserve were closed for five weeks after a hunter was threatened and a horse rider chased by feral dogs.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said farmers are "within their rights" to shoot roaming dogs attacking livestock on their property. Photo / file
Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said farmers are “within their rights” to shoot roaming dogs attacking livestock on their property. Photo / file

And in June, more than 100 sheep belonging to Maungatūroto farmer Rex Roadley were mauled by wandering canines. 56 sheep died as a result.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said lambs are particularly vulnerable when less than a week old, and “dogs are the biggest predators to sheep.”

“If they [farmers] see dogs attacking stock on their property, they are within their rights to shoot it.

“We need to encourage owners to take responsibility for their dogs.

“When you get a pack of dogs, the problem becomes far worse very quickly.

“The council has to take a leading role in dog licensing, and go out and look for these dogs not registered and put the onus back on the owner.”



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