THEY look cute and soft but an alpaca is capable of stomping a fox to death.
So several farmers told us, including alpaca breeder Anne West, of Glenorie.
"Lots of our neighbours also have chooks but we are the only one of our neighbours not to have lost a chook to a fox," Ms West said.
"The alpacas actually give out a warning call, not just if there's foxes but if there's anything out there they're not used to or that is a danger."
The call is a cross between a chimpanzee and a bird noise.
"There's always been a demand for herd guards [but] people are increasingly buying alpacas to protect their chickens from foxes," Sue Maynard, regional secretary of the Australian Alpacas Association, said.
It's one way to deal with the fox problem flagged on the Hills News website, as well as on our sister paper websites, after we reported the Australian arm of the animal rights group PETA wanted The Hills Council to stop killing red foxes at Bidjigal Reserve.
Read the article we published on September 17: PETA calls to end fox poisoning in The Hills.
Foxoff poison baits containing 1080 are buried in three local reserves — Bidjigal, Eric Mobbs and Excelsior — twice a year.
Online everyone agreed the pest-management practice was necessary.
Bega Farmer said: "I shoot LOTS of foxes and see first-hand the devastation they cause, from thrill-killing a whole chicken pen and eating just one chicken, killing day-old lambs — some as they're being born — to killing every native animal it can handle; even seen one pull down a wallaby . . . this introduced species has no place in our eco system."
On our Facebook page, Laura Marshall said: "Just wondering if they [PETA] care about the rights of all the native animals that get killed as well?"
A Hills Council spokesman said the RSPCA deemed the use of 1080 as "conditionally humane and lawful", as there is no alternative, effective control method available.
A Hornsby Council spokesman said Hornsby Council also supported fox control using 1080 but the council had not been involved in fox baiting for 18 months to two years, "due to a change in priorities within the regional baiting program".