Children in the northern Guanacaste beach town of Paraíso killed an entire family of monkeys with an air rifle, according to accounts from residents that were confirmed by police and officials from the local Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) office.
The National Police officer who responded to the incident could not be reached for comment, as his station in Playa Paraíso does not have a telephone.
Fernando Vargas, who heads the Santa Cruz police station, said a group of four children between the ages of 8 and 12 shot and killed a group of monkeys, and police took two air rifles from them. Air rifles fire pellets instead of bullets. He added that the local Prosecutor’s Office said it would not file charges because the perpetrators are minors.
Costa Rica’s laws allow for the prosecution of children only 12 years or older, said Judicial Branch spokeswoman Sandra Castro.
“If the Prosecutor’s Office said they are not going to press charges, it is because they are younger than 12,” Castro said.
A local resident who asked not to be identified told The Tico Times the children killed between 15-20 monkeys, including pregnant mothers.
“It was pretty much the only family of monkeys around here,” said the resident, who added that the kids were on “a rampage” with air rifles, killing anything they could find.
Isidro Ortíz, of the Santa Cruz MINAE office, told The Tico Times his office had received the complaint, but the case has been passed on to the National Child Welfare Office (PANI) because it involves children.
Juanita Zúñiga, who heads the Santa Cruz PANI office, said that she has scheduled an interview to speak with the parents and the children to “avoid further risks.”