Human-created animal population problems are not new — though many people aren’t aware of them. In the L.A.-area, for example, in an attempt to control squirrel and pigeon populations, we’ve tried everything from poison to birth control — and some of those methods have been met with outcries from the animal rights community.

Now comes a book that tells an even bloodier battle over animals — thanks to L.A. writer T.C. Boyle. His latest novel, “When the Killing’s Done,” tells the rather violent story over animal control in Santa Cruz Island. Boyle’s novel is a fictionalized tale to be sure, but one based on historical facts. As Slate’s review of the book puts it, “T.C. Boyle pits animal rightists against environmentalists.” And the conundrum is a very real-life one that continues to plague environmentalists and animal lovers today: Should human-introduced feral pigs be killed to save the Santa Cruz Island fox?

According to The Nature Conservancy, the answer is yes. “It’s our job to preserve nature, but sometimes that requires making hard choices. There is nothing pleasant about having to kill an animal,” said The Nature Conservancy Santa Cruz Island Director Lotus Vermeer in a press release. “My love of nature is what brought me to this job in the first place. But what is very clear to me is that when native plants and animals like the Santa Cruz Island fox are at risk, and natural systems are threatened, we are morally obligated to take responsibility for undoing the damage that we have caused.”

The Nature’s Conservancy is actually using the occasion of Boyle’s new novel to highlight the issues and the nonprofit’s work on Santa Cruz Island. And part of that promotion includes an enticing chance to see what’s happening at the island up close. Enter the contest to win a trip for two to Santa Cruz Island, where you’ll get to meet scientists working on the island, see animals like the Island Fox, and stay overnight at a historic ranch. You’ve got until May 13 to get into the drawing — Good luck!

Killing animals to save animals
Is it okay to kill feral pigs to save endangered foxes? A contest offers environmentalists a chance to see the challenges of eco-conservancy up close.