While his methods might be questionable, Cheeky Yates has one message for the authorities: fix the feral dog problem or watch someone get bitten or killed.
Yates’ voice was broadcast across the country recently following his comments on eradicating feral dogs by laying out poison-laden tampons.
The RNZ interview was recorded at a community meeting held in Houhora last month regarding the apparently growing issue of feral dogs terrorising farmers and their livestock across the Far North.
Yates spoke openly at the meeting about what he thought was the best way of resolving the problem- to either shoot or poison them.
Yates spoke exclusively with the Northland Age to set the record straight regarding his concerns about the dogs.
“I want people to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” he said.
“I’m not here for any glory and I’m not a hero, I’m just someone who is concerned about what’s going on up there with those dogs.
“There are bloody corgis, blue heelers and kelpies up there running wild. The Queen’s own dogs are out there hunting!”
Yates said he spent two weekends in an area where the dogs were thought to be hunting and said he saw everything from emus to packs of dogs roaming through the bush.
He said while his methods of destroying the animals might not appeal to everyone, he believed humans were ultimately to blame.
“I think domestic dogs are not being looked after properly, so they end up going into the bush and turning feral.
“Mark my words, if something isn’t done I can guarantee you sooner or later someone is going to get mauled or worse still, killed.
“It shouldn’t have to take something like that to happen before the Department of Conservation and authorities do something.”
Farmer Anne-Marie Nilsson called the Houhora meeting to appeal for a solution to the wild dogs, which had killed more than 150 sheep and goats.
She said while she didn’t necessarily condone Yates’ methods, she agreed something drastic needed to happen.
“There have been all sorts of dogs up here from corgis pinching lambs to other smaller dogs like Jack Russell crosses, mongrel forest and scrub dogs,” she said.
“After the meeting I asked people to call me if they saw any dogs in their area and was inundated with calls from all over the country.
“I too am concerned about people getting attacked if these dogs aren’t dealt with appropriately, god forbid if it was a child.
“Currently the authorities have no way of dealing with the issue, so unless we get legislation changes to the Pest Control Act, I’m worried what might happen.
“I know it’s going to take some time, but nothing will happen if we if we don’t start something now.
“I think to own a dog you need to have a licence and in the case of feral dogs, we need some type of safe, effective, targeted toxin to help control this situation.
“If they can come up with something quick and humane, that would be great, but I don’t know if that would involve tampons.”
Far North District Council Mayor John Carter agreed it was a unique issue which he was keen to see resolved as soon as possible.
“I’m working with relevant authorities at the moment to see if we can find a lawful and practical way forward to address this issue,” Carter said.
“It is a unique scenario in a sense and we are working towards perhaps creating a special permit that would allow the appropriate authorities to eradicate the dogs.
“I too am very worried about the farmers losing their stock and also the possibility of someone innocent being attacked. “
Despite concerns from locals and the FNDC, the Department of Conversation (DoC) would not confirm whether it felt there was a feral dog issue in the Far North.
DoC Kaitaia operations manager Meirene Hardy-Birch said adjectives used such as “wild”, “feral” and “aggressive” had distracted people from the real issue.
“If dogs are not managed properly, it could result in problems, given dogs are social, intelligent, adaptable and highly elusive animals when returned to their natural instincts,” Hardy-Birch said.
“Dogs can be man’s best friend, but when not controlled, can quickly revert to their natural instincts as hunters and go rogue, causing economic, environmental and social impacts as demonstrated recently.
“DoC’s focus has been to ascertain the breadth and depth of the dog problem.
“Dogs are not a native species of New Zealand and therefore our core focus is the impact of dogs on New Zealand wildlife, staff and contractors working at the place, as well as visitors using track networks on public conservation lands adjoining the farmers’ properties that have reported the attacks.
“Urgency should be placed on assessing and understanding the full extent of the problem.
“With this latest situation, it has identified a “hot spot” and we now have more information to come up with a plan using appropriate control methods.
“We can then act on that plan effectively to achieve a common goal –that dogs are managed in the area.
“In New Zealand there are no registered toxins for the control of dogs, so the control methods available for land owners including DoC are limited to trapping, shooting, fencing or aversion techniques.
“These techniques require high time inputs, technical ability and local knowledge.”
Hardy-Brich added that DoC disagreed with the sentiment that the issue with the dogs was due to domestic dog owners living in towns or cities.
“Our experience is that these situations occur in remote locations and the source of problem dogs is a combination of reasons, the categories are lost, abandoned, roaming or born-in-the-wild dogs,” she said.
“These reasons are the result of dogs not being appropriately cared for by their original human owners.”
Hardy-Birch declined to comment on whether DoC believed it was necessary to act immediately in order to prevent someone possibly being bitten or killed by the dogs.
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