California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Wednesday that makes it illegal to trap animals or sell their fur, making California the first state in the U.S. to impose a fur trapping ban.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019 puts an end to a longstanding practice that was entwined with California’s frontier roots but that has steadily declined in recent decades with the rise of conservationism.
“Historically, fur trapping played a significant role in the extirpation of wolves and wolverines and the severe declines in sea otters, fishers, marten, beaver, and other fur-bearing species in California,” the bill states. “Because individual trappers concentrate their operations in limited geographical areas, they can locally deplete populations of the species they target, impairing the ecological functioning of the area and diminishing opportunities for wildlife watching in these areas.”
The legislation notes: “Prohibiting fur trapping would eliminate the needless taxpayer subsidized killing of California’s native species for the international fur trade, while better protecting the role these species place in our ecosystems and economy.”
Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who introduced the bill, celebrated its passage on Wednesday.
“Fur trapping is a cruel practice that has no place in 21st century California,” Gonzalez wrote on Twitter.
Trappers typically strangle, shoot or beat animals to death. The law specifically outlaws the use of the “steel-jawed leghold trap” or any trap that has sawtoothed or spiked jaws for trapping animals. It also prohibits the sale of “raw fur,” defined as any fur, pelt or skin that hasn’t been tanned or cured.
The number of licenses for recreational and commercial fur trapping have declined in recent years, according to The Associated Press. The state issued 133 licenses last year, resulting in 1,568 animals trapped and 1,241 pelts sold. Animals commonly trapped for their fur in California include coyotes, gray foxes, beavers, badgers and mink.
California also averages roughly 500 annual trapping licenses for pest control. Under the new law, it will still be legal to trap rats, mice, voles, moles and gophers.
State lawmakers are also considering legislation that would ban the sale of all fur products, along with a bill to prohibit circuses from using most animals in their performances in the state.
“There’s been a real change in attitudes about how we treat animals,” Gonzalez told The Los Angeles Times.
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