DOC‘s warning for dog owners
Four dogs have been destroyed following separate attacks on protected species around the country.
The Department of Conservation, enforcing the Dog Control Act 1996, has taken several dog owners to court after their pets attacked protected species. The maximum penalties are up to three years in prison, or a fine of $20,000.
One of the cases involved a 38-year-old woman who allowed her dog to run off the lead at Leisure Island along Mount Main Beach in August 2019.
The canine then attacked and killed a seal pup.
Under Tauranga City Council dog management bylaws, the reserve is a no-dog area and dogs must be on a leash on the beach for 255 metres to the south of the reserve.
The woman was given a $2000 fine.
The most recent case saw a 58-year-old dog owner fined $4500, plus court costs, for a dog attack on two brown kiwi in Russell.
It’s the heaviest ever fine handed out for a dog attack case in a prosecution taken by DOC.
The two other cases involved a dog killing a kiwi in the Coromandel and another dog killing five kiwis in an undisclosed location.
DNA evidence linking the dogs to these attacks was crucial in securing these convictions, says DOC.
“That level of fine sends a very strong signal from the court. Allowing a dog to be out of control so it poses a risk to native wildlife is not acceptable and will have consequences,” says DOC Solicitor Mike Bodie.
Bodie also confirmed that on top of fines and convictions, all four owners lost their pets, with the Court ordering the destruction of the dogs.
“For most people, that is the greatest penalty imposed,” he says.
“The Act gives the Court no option but to order destruction of the attacking dog, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.
“Although that may seem extremely harsh on the dog, it does make it clear that all dog owners have a responsibility to ensure their pets pose no risk to native wildlife.”
Across New Zealand, DOC works alongside community groups to protect the population of kiwi and other native wildlife, through thousands of hours of professional and voluntary conservation time.
“Dog owners can play their part by having their pets trained to avoid native species, kept well under control when outdoors, and not allowing them to roam at night,” Bodie says.
Dogs are not allowed on public conservation land without a permit.
Dog owners should also keep their pets on a lead when the animals are on beaches where they may encounter marine mammals.
People who encounter roaming dogs in conservation areas or wildlife habitats are urged to report what they see via 0800 DOC HOT.