A demon of unforeseen consequences has been unleashed on the people of Escazu, Costa Rica, and it may very well be coming for you next!
Okay, so that is really stretching the truth. Godzilla didn’t jump out of the sea, and King Kong isn’t smashing helicopters out of the sky while a helpless senorita flails about in his giant ape hands. The problem of the coati, a member of the same family of mammals as the raccoon, has been taking a turn for the worse in a number of communities in the Central Valley Region, however.
The problem started as a number of businesses near the Escazu toll stop began feeding the remarkably cute albeit prone to ferocious fits coati, or pizotes as they are known in Costa Rica. They fed the animals as a point of interest for tourists in the area, but the animals have since shown an aggressive side when they are taught to seek food from humans and are not provided with it as such.
The coatis have recently been found breaking into homes and trash bins in search of food, because of the association of humans as a food source. The feeding of wild animals by humans has been outlawed by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas) since April of 2013, but the law has not gone into general practice and is not regularly enforced. The pizotes are, as a consequence of the human interaction, becoming a nuisance for people in the areas most notably around Heredia and Escazu.
SINAC has been filing many complaints about the cute woodland creatures. Though the law permits relocation or castration of animal populations that become inflated and hostile in urban areas, the organization would prefer to educate communities on what proper interaction with the coati population is. Students from UCR (the University of Costa Rica) are currently designing pizote proof trash cans, and SINAC is coming up with ways of educating people as to how to properly engage with the animals.
Unless you are otherwise authorized to look after coatis, you shouldn’t attempt to feed them for your safety and that of those around you.