A total of 91 people were charged with violations of the Forestry Law during Holy Week, a 75% increase from last year, when 52 offenders were charged, said a statement from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), a branch of the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE).
The most common infractions included plant extractions from protected areas, illegal possession of wildlife, hunting, fishing, illegal transportation of wood and illegal felling.
Approximately 600 items – both flora and fauna – were confiscated or given up voluntarily to the more than 250 SINAC personnel positioned at posts on the country’s main highways.
SINAC staff, which doubled from last year, inspected some 12,000 vehicles, in which 600 pieces of wood, an amount that could fill two trucks, were found.
SINAC director Raúl Solórzano qualified people’s insensitivity to their environmental impact as worrisome.
“The trend that people go on vacation and return to their homes with pets or ‘souvenirs’ has continued. For example, the norm is to bring back parakeets and parrots, but deer, ocelots, iguanas, sloths, and turtles have also been reported,” he said.
Violations to Costa Rica’s Forestry Law can lead to prison time, vehicle confiscations, and fines of up to ¢300,000 ($600) or the equivalent of the environmental damage caused. For example, a single illegally felled tree can be valued at ¢2 million ($4,000), according to the statement.