Canadian slain in Costa Rica battled poaching
Former Yukoner campaigned against sloth poaching, say friends
Friends of Kimberley Blackwell, a Canadian who was killed last week in Costa Rica, described her as an animal lover who had campaigned against sloth poaching in that country.
Blackwell, 53, was found dead last week outside her home in the remote rural area of Puerto Jimenez. Investigators in Costa Rica have said they are treating her death as a homicide.
Originally from Whitehorse, Blackwell moved to Costa Rica almost 20 years ago and was running an organic chocolate-making business on a farm bordering a national park.
Friends told CBC News on Monday that Blackwell said she had confronted poachers as they tried to cross her property to hunt illegally in the park.
Eric Epstein, a longtime friend from Whitehorse, said Blackwell started her chocolate business, Samaritan Xocolata, to give local people an alternative to poaching local wildlife for income.
Blackwell even acquired a BB gun to chase poachers off her land, he added. "She took very aggressive action against them," he said, speculating that she had been paid back in an unspeakable way.
Epstein, who met Blackwell in the 1980s, said she always loved animals and had been a vocal opponent of wolf-kill programs in Yukon.
'Fairy sloth mother' had BB gun
Blackwell later left Yukon and was involved with Greenpeace before settling in Costa Rica, where Epstein said she campaigned against sloth poaching.
"Kim was very much the advocate for the animals. She was dubbed by someone [as] 'the fairy sloth mother,'" he said.
Whitehorse musician Barb Chamberlin said when she visited Blackwell in Costa Rica last month, Blackwell told her that she had shot a poacher with a BB gun.
"Then I'm like, 'Well, aren't you worried?' and she goes, 'You know, I am worried, but not that much,'" Chamberlin said.
"I think us North Americans tend to think that nothing like that's going to happen to us."
Both Chamberlin and Epstein said they hope to repatriate some of Blackwell's ashes to Yukon for a memorial service. A date has not yet been set.