Park guards will borrow firearms for their jobs

Park guards are getting firearms and training, thanks to an agreement with the security ministry.

Alfio Piva Mesén, vice president, and  Ana Lorena Guevara, vice minister of Ambiente, signed an agreement Saturday that will provide the 300 workers for the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación some 214 firearms, according  to Casa Presidencial.

The signing was the highlight of the  Día de los Parques Nacionales, celebrated at the  Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco.

The security ministry will provide training for the guards in the use of weapons and maintenance. The period of the loan is two years. At the same time the 2014 budget for the  Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación contains nearly a half million dollars for firearms.

The guards also will receive incentive pay because of their possession of firearms on the job in the same way that police officers do.

The dangers facing park guards has increased due to drug traffickers and poachers. Usually they have to call in the Fuerza Pública.

The Laura Chinchilla administration is more concerned about park and conservation safety after the murder of a worker who protected turtle nests in Moín. The administration came under international criticism for not providing security for the nesting sites that mainly are protected by volunteers.

Remote buildings used by park guards also are prime targets for local thieves. There have been a number of incidents because the buildings are not always occupied, and they are located in areas where there are few jobs and the motive to steal is strong.

The conservation system is within the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía.

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