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Death by dog: 10 of the lambs killed in the past four weeks

A farmer is gunning for dogs who’ve killed 27 lambs on his land near Queenstown’s Lake Hayes in the past month.

Jared Hutton says there have been two attacks on livestock in the paddocks of his leased property, Threepwood Farm – 150 hectares of farmed land spread across a rural residential private subdivision.

He’s been patrolling in the early hours and says if he catches a dog in the act he’ll shoot it. He’s legally within his rights to do so.

In the first attack, 16 lambs were killed, then 11 last Sunday.

Each dead lamb is about $130 and months’ worth of work down the gurgler.

The Threepwood Farm Resi-dents Association (TFRA), which Jared and his wife Katie lease the farm from, have put up a $500 reward for anyone who has information that can lead to the capture of the killer.

“It’s pretty depressing,” he says.

“People just need to be responsible with their animals – the easiest part about getting a dog is buying it.”

Fed up: Jared Hutton

Jared has informed the council of each attack.

Its statistics show 2015-2016 had the highest amount of sheep attacks in the past six years with five complaints made – but this last financial year the stats show no complaints were made.

Council comms boss Naell Crosby-Roe says: “The numbers for our area are very low given an overall current registered dog population of 4485 in 2016-2017.”

The highest number of roaming dog complaints, 548, have been made from 2016 to 2017.

In 2016 the Huttons lost 35 lambs in one hit while in 2015 they only lost three or four – for the four years before that they’d had no trouble with dogs.

After last year’s heartbreaking mass killing they installed one camera – they’ve since added two more.

After this year’s first attack a few weeks ago, Jared patrolled Threepwood from 4am to 7.30am – his theory is the dog or dogs are probably trespassing in the small hours of the morning.

He also reckons the first attack this year was one dog, while the second was two.

On Friday last week he reeled back the early morning starts after nine in a row.

Come Sunday the dog, or dogs, had struck again.

The family put holiday plans on hold after one of the attacks.

He reckons it’s most likely a town dog within a one-kilometre radius of the farm that’s never seen lambs before.

“They’re not actually eating them, they’re just grabbing them across the shoulders, shake shake, and that’s it – dead.”

This could mean the dogs are back home without any traces of blood before the sun comes up.

TFRA boss Karen Ramsay is fairly sure it’s not a resident’s dog and Jared agrees.

Ramsay’s let residents know they need to be vigilant with their dogs and has asked them to call the Huttons if they hear or see anything suspicious.

Jared says he’s already received a few calls. A ban has also been put on tradie dogs coming on to any part of the farm.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz