Photo: Lazarus the surviving rooster, Kieran and Andrew (Jasmin Jones)

There have been several reports of fox sightings and chooks killed in town recently, some as close as Comur Street. In the past foxes have had several dens in the Yass Gorge, where a fox management plan was implemented in 2015 due to their numbers at the time.

Despite living just 200m from the post office, Kieran Eadie’s property, which sits on Pritchett and Church Street, was hit twice recently losing most of his flock in the space of two weeks.

“I looked in the [henhouse] and it was just absolute carnage,” Kieran said. “There’s still feathers everywhere in the enclosure, I can’t bring myself to clean it up but I’ve buried the bodies.”

The foxes had chewed through the chicken wire and managed to bend back stronger fencing wire to squeeze through a gap about 10cm wide before decimating the flock.

“It’s pretty upsetting. I was supposed to spend half a day packing and dealing with kids and doing the washing, but I ended up spending half a day burying pieces of chickens,” Kieran said.

Anna Tanswell’s hen house

“They just kill them for fun, none of [the chickens] were eaten.”

Yass Valley Council Director of Planning and Environment Julie Rogers said that fox management is the responsibility of the landowner.

South East Local Land Services, which covers the Yass Valley, said the best way to protect your animals is to secure them properly. However, second to that, residents can hire or rent a fox trap and attempt to catch the fox, which is similar to trapping feral cats.

But due to biodiversity laws if you trap a pest such as a fox, then you must humanely euthanise it and cannot release it elsewhere.

Foxes have played a large role in the decline of native wildlife from turtles and lizards to small mammals and birds. They also carry diseases like mange and tapeworm.

Kieran said the foxes appeared to have been gutting the chickens looking for a prime cut like heart or liver.

He added his concern that the influx of foxes could pose a safety risk to small children.

Ashleigh and the late Inky

“When there’s that many of them and they’ve reached that critical mass where they’re bold enough to come into residential houses who knows that they’re not going to attack a kid next.”

“It wouldn’t take much for a kid to play in their sandpit and a fox to have a go at them, it’s just pretty scary, actually with little kids around.”

Yass resident Anna Tanswell also lost her entire flock of chickens and ducks on her property on Meehan Street near Demestre Street last week.

“It was absolutely hectic,” she said. “I think they were just killed all over the place.”

“We had lots of different coloured chooks so I can see exactly where each one of them was killed.” Unfortunately, Anna’s daughter, Ashleigh, discovered the chook massacre and amongst the missing was her pet rooster, Inky.

“She’s devastated obviously as she’s raised him since he was a day-old chick.”

Anna said her family has had the same chook set up for years and never had any problems with foxes.

“I am just really upset about the waste and there were two [dead] chickens and four ducks left behind,” she said. “I’m just devastated to be honest. They’re our family pets as well as our little egg producers.”

“I still feel a bit sick about the whole situation,” Anna said. “That’s my take-home message for everyone – Make sure they’re locked up and they’re secure because even the baby [foxes] can get in such a tiny little spot.”

By Brianna O’Rourke