By Geoff Vause
Shepherds at White Rock Station are unimpressed with a fine handed out to a hunter whose dogs mauled pregnant ewes at White Rock Station earlier this year.
The two loose whippets belonging to Shane Gavan McEntee were believed to have done far more damage than mauling nine sheep on the 3,500 hectare station before they were shot.
White Rock supervisor Phil Guscott said around 70 sheep were left mauled or dead with a subsequent insurance payout approaching $10,000.
But he said the distress shepherds suffered when they found sheep and lambs injured by dogs was the real cost.
“It affects us more than anyone. It’s very distressing to find sheep half dead and mauled like this.
McEntee was fined $300 for nine sheep mauled by his hunting dogs, and ordered to pay reparation of $1440 by Judge Barbara Morris at Masterton District Court yesterday.
In the case brought by South Wairarapa District Council, the court was told McEntee had the dogs unrestrained on the back of his ute when he was deer hunting on June 6 and they had run off.
He had let farmers in the area know his dogs were missing.
On June 23 the mauled sheep were found by shepherds at White Rock.
On June 25 another hunter saw dogs mauling sheep and shot them.
Contacted by White Rock staff, McEntee travelled out to the station and identified the dogs as his. One had a council dog tag, and neither were microchipped.
Judge Barbara Morris said McEntee’s mistake had been having the dogs unrestrained on his ute so they could run off.
“They eventually got hungry,” Judge Morris said.
Mr Guscott said the $300 fine and reparation was “no deterrent at all”.
“People don’t ask if they can hunt across these properties. They just do it. Everybody feels like they have a right to hunt on private land.
“These dog attacks add to our workload, but the worst thing is the suffering of the animals. We have 12,000 sheep on here, and three people. We can’t police the whole thing.”
South Wairarapa District Council planning boss Murray Buchanan said the council took the case very seriously.
“While the charge related to nine sheep, it is possible these dogs were responsible for the death of many others,” Mr Buchanan said.
“White Rock station have indicated that it could be around 70. Unfortunately, we could not prove that in an ‘evidential’ sense, but we have no reason to believe it is not the case.”
He said sending this one to court “could help avoid future incidents by getting the message across to all dog owners that the council will take legal action”.
Stock insurers NZI said the possibility for pursuing McEntee for the losses were limited.
Claims manager Paul Neely, based at Wellington, said the subsequent case and sentencing left insurers with few options, but he would discuss the matter further with recoveries managers.