Those who have been putting off a hunting trip in Costa Rica may never fulfill that dream. Costa Rican lawmakers are en route to making the entire country a sport hunting-free area. It would be the first Latin American country to do so.

Lawmakers voted 41 to 5 in favor of changing the law to ban hunting.

The move is backed by environmental activists and businesses that make their money off tourism. The Central American nation mostly attracts wildlife watchers and anglers. According to Reuters, roughly 300,000 visitors come to the country’s national parks. The approximately 1.5 million international tourists that flock to national parks, beaches, tropical rain forests and resorts generate roughly $2.1 billion annually, or 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

“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 in favor of the reform Diego Marin, to a local radio station.

The ban would not prevent subsistence hunters from pursuing wildlife for survival, nor would it prevent hunting for a scientific purpose.

Within 0.1 percent of its landmass, Costa Rica contains 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Numerous species of frogs, turtles, monkeys, squirrels, sloths, big cats, crocodiles and more live in Costa Rica.

Some outfitter services offer the chance to hunt for dove, duck, whitetail, mule and red stag.

A second vote in the coming week is expected to ratify the law.

Image from Ecotrust Sam Beebe (Sam Beebe) on the flickr Creative Commons

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