Farmers, Northland locals remained concerned as feral dog sightings continue

Farmers and locals remain concerned over packs of roaming feral dogs in Northland, with reports of attacks on cows and sheep in the area.

Earlier this month, the Department of Conservation (DoC) closed a number of walking tracks in the area, as well as the Twilight Campsite, after sightings of up to four packs of the dogs.

Security footage by one farmer caught some of the dogs on the prowl at night and locals in the area told The Project cows and sheep have been attacked.

They are also concerned for the safety of people and native birds.

"Dogs are predators, they just are," Far North Kiwi Coast coordinator Lesley Baigent told The Project.

"It's in their DNA and certainly they're a pack animal and when we get a pack they're more likely to do serious damage."

So far there have been at least four sightings of packs of the dogs, with DoC closing the campsite and tracks to protect visitors to the region from the threat of being attacked.

"This is the first time that we've heard of aggressive behaviour to people," says Abraham Witana, acting operations manager of DoC Kaitai.

He said it now looks like the situation might be getting worse, with the latest sighting by a local driver last weekend.

"They saw a pack of six dogs and a small litter of puppies." 

Baigent told The Project the dogs already slaughter our most treasured native birds.

"Once they get a taste for kiwi, dogs will go through and will take a lot of them. They'll systematically work their way through. 

"They don't eat kiwi, they just love the thrill of the chase."    

Witana says it's not clear where the animals come from, but he suspects the dogs may have been dumped or lost by hunters.

And it's not easy to get rid of them.

"They're really hard to catch. They're very cunning, they're very clever," says Baigent.

She says trapping or shooting them is the only way to get them under control.

"We've just got to get rid of them.

"I'm a dog lover, I love dogs, but I know what they can do. I've spent many years picking up behind them - dead things - and we don't need these dogs." 

DoC says they are following up a number of reports from the public and tracks will remain closed for at least another week.