California Just Became The First State To Ban Fur Trapping After Governor Newsom Signed Wildlife Protection Act

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Wildlife Protection Act of 2019 today, ending the centuries-old practice of commercial trapping of native species, including gray foxes, coyotes, badgers, beavers and mink, whose pelts are often sold in foreign fur markets. AB 273 prohibits fur trapping, eliminates wildlife torture and the state’s trapping subsidy, and supports healthy ecosystems, local economies and science-based wildlife management.

AB 273 was authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego) and co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Commercial fur trapping is ecologically, economically and ethically bad policy, and I commend Governor Newsom for valuing our wildlife rather than simply considering these animals as commodities to be trapped, tortured, skinned and sold,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, which has successfully led dozens of animal rights campaigns, including the statewide ban on the sale of mill-bred dogs, cats and rabbits. “Native animals are under siege from the White House, development, droughts, wildfires and fur markets in countries like Russia and China. Once again, California is leading the charge, creating a legislative blueprint other states can follow to ban this archaic industry.”

AB 273 is designed to align wildlife management with California’s environmental values as well as to end the taxpayer subsidy of fur trapping. In 2017, 68 licensed trappers killed more than 1,500 animals statewide – by strangulation, shooting, gassing and worse to assure undamaged pelts – which produced a mere $10,600 in revenue for the trappers. The Department of Fish and Wildlife generated approximately $15,000 in license sales to fur trappers, not enough to cover the cost of a properly managed and enforced fur trapping program, resulting in a de facto subsidy for commercial fur trapping. In contrast, wildlife watching, including equipment and trip-related expenses, generated $3.77 billion in economic activity in the state in 2017.

“Fur trapping is a cruel practice that has no place in 21st century California. The fact that the majority of California taxpayers overwhelmingly majority disapprove of this archaic practice and have been unknowingly subsidizing it for years is simply unacceptable,” said Assemblymember Gonzalez. “I’m delighted that Governor Newsom agrees and has signed this bill into law, saving countless individual animals and putting an end to an unwise and likely unlawful subsidy.”

In California, fur trapping has historically contributed to the extinction of wolves and wolverines as well as severe declines in sea otters, fishers, martens and beavers, which, in part, has led many companies to go fur-free, including Gucci, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. 

“Today marks a milestone in the process of bringing California’s wildlife laws into the 21st Century,” said Brendan Cummings, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The overwhelming majority of Californians value our wildlife alive, not to be trapped and cruelly slaughtered for foreign fur markets.  We thank Governor Newsom for relegating this cruel and antiquated practice to the dustbin of history in California.”

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