Costa Rica has become the first country on the continent to ban hunting as a sport. The country’s jaguars, birds, turtles, crocodiles and other species are now protected by the new Wild Life Law or the Ley de Vida Silvestre. This event is historic in that it is the first law to be introduced by a citizen’s initiative (the people) and not legislators (diputados). The country’s citizens gathered 177,000 signatures to get this law passed. Only the president’s signature is missing to make it official.
When the law comes into force hunting licenses will no longer be issued. Last year alone 1,296 hunting permits were issued. Under the new law the maximum fine is $3000 if caught hunting. In addition, the new regulation also forbids people from having wild animals as pets. Monkeys, birds, iguanas, raccoons and other species may no longer be kept in captivity or as pets. The fine for this offense is between $600 and $1200 dollars.
In theory this law should work, however poachers (cazadores furtivos) have always been a problem in Costa Rica. Furthermore, enforcement is another issue. I seriously doubt if the country has enough manpower like park rangers to enforce this law 100 percent. Although what I really like about this law is that it will reduce the number of animals that get imprisoned in inhumane and cruel conditions and lessen animal’s suffering in general.
I have been an animal lover and vegetarian for over 40 years. One area which the country needs to improve is stray dogs. It breaks my heart to see all of the malnourished and I some cases mistreated dogs roaming the streets. There are several private organizations which depend on donations trying to do something about this problem. However, the government has been negligent and needs to improve their role. Perhaps the new hunting law is a sign that things are going to change to improve the plight of the homeless dogs.