Photograph of a Red FoxRabbits have a close relationship with another introduced animal - the Red Fox. Rabbits are the preferred food for foxes and during the 1930's and 40's, the huge numbers of rabbits supported the growth of the fox population.

After myxomatosis was released and the rabbit population dropped dramatically, the foxes became much more of a menace to farmers as they attacked sheep and lambs. Foxes also continue to have a huge impact on our native fauna, killing small animals such as mammals, lizards and birds.

During the rabbit plague, local councils offered a bounty on foxes. The Irwin Road Board used to pay 2 shillings and sixpence (twenty five cents) per scalp, which was welcome pocket-money for local school children.

A fox decoy whistle. (Approximately 3cm diametre)When hunting foxes, a decoy whistle was often used. This made the same sound as an injured rabbit. Without fail the foxes would be attracted to the sound, wanting to investigate the potential meal. Charles Ellery recalls: "I remember the first time I got one, I thought 'they wont come up to that'. But they did - they'd run right over you!"

One drawback to shooting foxes was that bullets were very expensive. Some people would 'load' their own, melting lead and pouring it into the old shells. Charlie Ellery recalls: "We'd have to knock the old cap out first, and put another one in. Sometimes we'd use a wax match-head if we didn't have any caps - we'd straighten the old one out, put the wax match in and put the old cap in on top of it. They used to work alright, but you had to be prepared to hold the rifle pretty steady because it never used to go off straight away."

Farmers would also trap foxes. Lyn Broad recalls: "They had four rabbit traps tied together in the middle with wire, and they would peg that in the middle and set the four traps like a cross. They would set the four traps with meat and have a piece of meat in the middle and there would be a fair chance they'd get a fox in at least one of those traps."

The third method of fox control is poisoning. 1080 works well on foxes, but they can also fall prey to secondary poisoning. This is what happens when a fox dines on a rabbit that has been killed by 1080. There is enough residue poison in the rabbit's body to also kill the fox that eats it.