Predator-prey balance is important if you have chickens

I said last week that as long as the foxes around our house don’t bother the chickens, I’ll let ‘em hang around. But they need to start earning their keep. I wish they’d start whittling down the rabbit population.

Last week, I talked about a fox that was sniffing around my back yard, near where the chicken coop is, and the fact that I just couldn’t justify shooting him. After all, he didn’t seem interested at all in the chickens, and foxes are just so darn cool.

There’s also the fact that we’re about overrun by rabbits. Both cottontails and jackrabbits have nearly overtaken our property. We don’t have a garden yet, so they’re not doing much crop damage, but I can’t let the dogs out into the yard without having them rocket off on the heels of a rabbit, and then I have to stand at the back door yelling for twenty minutes or so to get the dang dogs back in the house.

Now that I know for sure we have foxes in the neighborhood, I’m wondering why we have so many rabbits. They must be slow foxes. If they don’t start snarfing up some of those bunnies, I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands.

And you can bet I’ll have plenty of help if I decide to start hunting rabbits around the house. I have two young boys who are both itching to get started hunting, and rabbits are great quarry for rookie hunters. If we don’t have to go farther than the woodpile to hunt, all the better.

I’ve only resisted turning the boys loose on the rabbits because if the foxes have fewer rabbits to eat, they might start getting more serious about the chickens. But if we have to go that route, I suppose I could reduce the fox population, too. And my sources tell me fox pelts are selling at auction for up to fifty bucks again. Hmm. If that number goes up any more, it might change my thinking on letting the foxes have the run of the back yard.

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