YOU'VE already heard of Tattslotto and Oz Lotto. But now there's a new lotto in town. Let's call it fox-lotto, where fox shooters go in the draw for monthly prizes including a flat-screen television, electrical goods and MP3 players. At the end of the year, a new Mitsubishi four-wheel-drive will be up for grabs.
The prizes are available to licensed Victorian shooters who register to take part in the State Government's latest program to combat foxes across the state, "FoxStop".
Since FoxStop was introduced early this year, 3151 fox kills have been recorded. And there have been 853 entry registrations by hunters to take part in the program, some of them by individual hunters and some by teams of shooters.
The State Government is spending $400,000 over four years on FoxStop under the umbrella of its future farming strategy. Private sponsors are also contributing prizes.
"It is a simple case of mathematics because the more you hunt foxes the greater your opportunity to win," Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said yesterday. He said the scheme was already saving Victorian livestock and wildlife.
After unveiling the major prize — the Mitsubishi four-wheel-drive — outside the office of Field and Game Australia in Seymour yesterday, he told The Age he anticipated that FoxStop would encourage more shooters to shoot foxes than they otherwise would.
But he said FoxStop was only one element of "an overall approach to fox control" that included den destruction and baiting.
"No farmer likes to go out and see what foxes do to lambs and indeed sheep. It's a pretty ugly sight and a pretty soul-destroying sight," Mr Helper said.
The State Government previously offered a reward for fox killings in a fox and wild dog bounty program during 2007. Under this scheme shooters were paid $10 per fox kill and $50 per wild dog kill. The new FoxStop program does not extend to wild dogs.
Mr Helper said the first three months of the program, with more than 3100 recorded fox kills, was a good result.
About 70 kilometres north-west of Seymour in Stanhope, fox shooter Bill Emmett yesterday surveyed 50 of the predators hanging on a fence just outside town. Mr Emmett and other fox hunters who belong to a group known as "Dad's Army" shot all bar two of them.
Each Wednesday at this time of year, now that the snakes have disappeared, the 17 or so members of Dad's Army along with five dogs go on a fox drive, starting at 9am. The group has done this for about 10 years.
This year Mr Emmett said the group was making about five kills a day.
Mr Emmett said foxes lived in dens along the irrigation channels and were a menace to farmers because they attacked lambs, calves and sometimes birthing cows. "You get a calf with no nose or ears, because the fox has torn them off … It's not a pretty sight."
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