San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

One-year jail sentence for Costa Rican turtle poacher commuted to probation

A criminal court in Santa Cruz, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, sentenced a local man to one year in prison for destroying turtle nests, an environmental crime in Costa Rica, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) reported on Thursday. SINAC did not release the man’s name.

However, he will serve no time in prison, as the court then reduced the sentence to three years probation. The case wrapped up two years after he was first arrested.

The defendant also was ordered to pay a ₡381,930 ($764) fine plus court costs. Per his probation arrangement, the one-year jail sentenced would be added to any other sentence if the man is convicted of an additional crime in the next three years.

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The case dates to May 24, 2011, when park rangers of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge found the man poaching eggs from an endangered olive ridley turtle nest (Lepidochelys olivacea).

The suspect, in possession of 200 eggs, was taken to the Prosecutors’ Office in Santa Cruz, where the judicial process against him began.

Ostional and Nancite Beach, in Santa Rosa National Park, are two of the world’s most important areas for nesting olive ridleys and other turtle species.

Arribadas, the simultaneous mass nesting of thousands of sea turtles, occur in Ostional at least once a month for up to five days.

Other species such as the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the black turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii) also come ashore to lay ther eggs on the beach.

Ostional is the only place in Costa Rica where it is possible to see nesting turtles throughout the year.

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