Costa Rica to ban sport hunting

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Costa Rica to ban sport hunting

Costa Rica will soon be the first country in the Americas to ban sport hunting.

An overwhelming majority of the country’s lawmakers voted 41 to 5 to protect its greatest treasures – the animals who call this tropical paradise home.

Costa Rica is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, and welcomes around 300,000 visitors a year who come to enjoy exotic species like jaguars, pumas and giant sea turtles.

Supporters of the ban say it was a question of simple economics.

According to Reuters:

“We’re not just hoping to save the animals but we’re hoping to save the country’s economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore,” environmental activist Diego Marin, who campaigned for the reform, told local radio.

The ban will not apply to indigenous groups who hunt for subsistence, nor to scientific research. Sport fishing was also left unaddressed, most likely because that practice draws tourists and a good amount of money.

But that’s no reason not to celebrate a win for conservation, for animals and for the nation as a whole that is protecting this legacy of biodiversity of life for generations to come.

This tiny Latin American nation, just shy of five million humans, has become a model for the world to strive to emulate.

In 2010, Costa Rica was awarded the Future Policy Award at a global summit for proving that its exemplary biodiversity law could be successfully put into practice.

“We are declaring peace with nature,” the ambassador of Costa Rica, Mario Fernández Silva told the Guardian in 2010, referring also to his country’s abolition of its army in 1958. “We feel a strong sense of responsibility about looking after our wealth of biodiversity. Our attitude is not progressive, it is conservative. Our view is that until we know what we have, it is our duty to protect it.”

To have such wealth, and actually appreciate its value is rare. Perhaps that is one reason the United States ranks so low on the Happy Planet Index, while Costa Rica takes top honors as the happiest country on the planet.

We have it all, but we constantly fall short when it comes to appreciating the importance of our natural resources.

It took Costa Rica 54 years to go from abolishing the legal murder of people to evolve to banning the legal murder of animals. At least the army existed under the pretense of protecting the innocent, while sport hunting by its very nature means killing the innocent for the fun of it.

American sport hunters will extol the necessity of their services to “manage” wildlife, as if America were a mess before Europeans showed up to administer some order to the imbalance of nature. Just last week Wyoming opened its first killing-for-fun open season on re-introduced wolves who were more than willing to attempt to “manage” the state’s prey animals.

Without their hunting license fees, they say, wild lands would not be protected. Costa Rica’s policy proves that there are other ways to acquire funds to preserve our natural heritage.

According to the Guardian:

“Costa Rica channels funds from a fuel tax, car stamp duty and energy fees to pay for nature reserve management and environmental services like clean air, fresh water and biodiversity protection.

“Landowners are paid to preserve old-growth forests and to plant new trees. As a result, forest cover has risen from 24 percent in 1985 to close to 46 percent today.”

What if we took the billions in livestock subsidies we award to one of the industries responsible for our loss of biodiversity and told all our hunters we’d like to attempt to evolve toward a non-violent society, since, unlike animals, we have that choice?

Unfortunately for America’s Happy Planet rating, Costa Rica’s live-saving policies will persist as a distant dream for some time.

As one Grist reporter put it, “Needless to say, it takes chutzpah to intentionally anger people who like killing things.”


Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

  • JonInDenver

    Unfortunately it’s many of the imbalances we’ve created that we now have to “manage”. For instance, in the Rocky Mountains the wolf is all but extinct – due mostly to over-hunting nearly 100 years ago. Now on Federal lands Elk are horribly over populated. They in-turn are wiping out vegetation to the point of extinction, and hurting other populations that rely on that vegetation for food.

    The elk also suffer from diseases created from living on top of each other and malnourishment.

    Since there are not enough wolves to balance the population, the State issues a specific number of tags for hunters to reduce the number of elk. Most years we fall short of taking enough elk to solve the problem, but we get closer to a balance each year.

    The State fees to gain access to an elk tag are several hundred dollars each. Plus required hunter safety courses, and 15% of all gun and ammo purchases go toward conservation at the state and federal levels.

    It is unlikely that local predator populations will get to a point where there will be a natural balance in Colorado, so there will always be a need for safe and legal hunts.

  • Kay

    BEST NEWS EVER!! Love and non-violence is always the key, not killing and death. In the future there will not be a need for hunters anymore because there are various areas of the world that are already testing birth control for wild animals to control their populations. FINALLY, we as humans are starting to figure out solutions that are less based on violence and killing and more on thinking wisely! Costa Rica also just recently outlawed shark finning!