Vicious dogs rule the roost at popular forest trails
A PACK of vicious dogs has left a section of forest near Woolgoolga a virtual no-go zone and bike riders, who have been bailed up, are urging authorities to act before somebody is seriously injured.
Their fears are compounded by the presence of an illegal shack in the same area bordered by Nashs Rd and Tramway Trail in the Wedding Bells State Forest, not far from Solitary Islands Way.
Scott Bocking, who owns Woodsey's Wheels in Woolgoolga, has heard the terrifying first-hand accounts from riders who have come to his shop to warn others.
He fears for the many children who ride the tracks.
"That section of forest is easily accessible and lots of kids ride there. The school takes groups out there and the mountain bike club runs a junior development program on Wednesday afternoons," he said.
Recently Trish and Dave Moffatt, who were riding with two others at the time, were bailed up by three dogs.
They have been riding the trails for close to 30 years but won't go back to that area.
"They came at us with their teeth bared - it was very frightening. Dave was hoarse from yelling to try and scare them off - he actually lost his voice for two days," Trish said.
They fended them off, holding up their bikes for protection, and retreated back down Tramway Trail.
Many riders have linked the dogs to a shack on the northern side of Arrawarra Creek near Nashs Road.
One rider, who does not want to be named, is frustrated at what he says is a lack of action from the authorities.
He came across the shack in November last year and was bailed up by two dogs with large chains around their necks.
"They were in full attack mode circling me - one was going left, one was going right, they knew what they were doing. I was terrified and still get goose bumps thinking about it now," he said.
"Then somebody whistled and the dogs stopped and turned around and shot off. I have no idea how I was going to get out of there."
He said he reported it to the Forestry Corporation and the NSW Police.
"They both said they would get back to me and I didn't hear anything back. If somebody gets seriously hurt, it will be on them," he said.
The Forestry Corporation has confirmed they've received reports of wild dogs and an illegal structure there and two staff attended the site on two occasions at the end of March.
"They found a small hut made of corrugated iron and the site relatively neat and tidy. On both occasions, there were no signs of current occupation by any person or their dogs," a spokesperson said.
"We issued a Notice of Removal of unauthorised structure under S69(2) Forestry Act 2012 on the site. We will monitor the site and remove the structure and clean up the site after April 26 if the person hasn't already done so. We would certainly discuss the situation with the occupant if we meet them."
The Forestry Corporation has advised Woolgoolga Police and will keep them up to date with the situation.
"Incidents like these happen fairly rarely in State Forests and usually can be managed sensitively outside the legal system," the forestry spokesperson said.
"Forestry Corporation works with other landholders and Local Land Services to undertake coordinated baiting and trapping programs to help manage wild dogs."