Costa Rica Bans Sport Hunting

By E.M Fay

Costa Rica has just become the first Latin American nation to ban hunting as a sport.  Taking wild animals from their habitat for sale and/or keeping them as pets are also penalized under the new law.  The culmination of a provisional reform approved in October, 2012, the December 2012 vote by the Costa Rican Congress was unanimous and final.  President Laura Chinchilla Miranda signed the bill into law.

The law “will allow us to live in peace with other living things that share our planet,” said assembly president Victor Emilio Granadas.

“I believe this is a message we give to future generations, that an activity like sport hunting is not a sport but a cruelty,” added Granadas.

Among the many native species that have long been hunted in Costa Rica, either as trophies or to be sold, are jaguars, pumas, and other “exotic” felines, and various types of parrots.  When the new law goes into effect, anyone caught sport hunting will risk four months in prison or fines up to $3000.  Those taking animals for sale or pets will face a somewhat smaller penalty.

Hunting had been big business in Costa Rica, as elsewhere.  Senor Arturo Carballo, the Deputy Director of Apreflofas, an environmentalist group who were in the forefront of this reform, said, “We do know there are currently clandestine hunting tours that go for about $5,000 per person.”

A positive sign is that this new law is the first proposal that arrived in Costa Rica’s Congress by way of a popular initiative, with 177,000 citizens’ signatures calling for the ban.  (Guardian, Dec. 11, 2012) 

A small country, Costa Rica is possessed of a stunning array of varying landscapes and abundant natural resources.  It has been a haven for an estimated 5% of the world’s bio-diversity.  Despite its size, Costa Rica has more bird species than the United States, and more species of butterfly than the continent of Africa. The human population is approx. 4.5 million, with relatively high education levels, compared to other parts of Latin America.

While sugar, bananas, coffee, and beef are still staples of Costa Rica’s export trade, industry and high-end goods and services have broadened their commercial markets.  In particular, their remarkable biodiversity is a key draw for ecotourists from all over the world, with tens of thousands of visitors daily experiencing the incredible variety of local wildlife.

Ecotourism is touted as having a minimal impact on the environment.  Its income is meant to help preserve protected areas as well as benefit local people, by reducing their dependence on activities that hurt wildlife and natural habitats.  With such treasures as 4500 species of butterfly, 212 types of mammals, 163 types of amphibian, 220 species of reptiles, approx. 870 varieties of birds, 1600 species of fresh and saltwater fish, and 13,000 plant species living in the diverse eco-systems of Costa Rica, there is a lot of life and beauty to protect from hunters and others who have no respect for nature.  Thus, the new ban on sport hunting has the potential to save Costa Rican animals from a great deal of suffering in the future.

We can but hope that this milestone legislation, banning sport hunting, is emulated in other countries, including the United States.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561