California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego is joining Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity in calling for a statewide ban on fur trapping. Introduced yesterday, Assembly Bill 273 would end California’s costly program that destroys wildlife for commercial purposes.
“Not only does the cruel fur trapping trade decimate our increasingly vulnerable wildlife populations, running this program doesn’t even make fiscal policy sense,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said in a statement emailed to WAN. “Taxpayers are subsidizing this unnecessary commercial activity because the cost of managing this program isn’t even covered by the revenue from trapping license fees.”
Hundreds of coyotes, foxes, badgers, and other fur-bearing animals are trapped each year in California so their pelts can be sold for a profit overseas. 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.
In 2017, a total of 133 trapping licenses were sold to fur trappers in California, generating approximately $15,000 to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Given this revenue generated by the sale of trapping licenses would only cover a fraction of the costs of even a single warden, proper management and enforcement of a fur trapping program would cost far more than the revenue generated by licenses, resulting in a de facto subsidy of commercial fur trapping.
Similarly, the minimal revenue generated by the sale of the furs of the animals killed by trappers is dwarfed by the millions of dollars that non-consumptive wildlife watching generates in California’s economy, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 2015, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to make California the first state to ban the commercial trapping of bobcats and it noted the program’s funding shortfall as a key role in the decision. River otters and red foxes are also banned from trapping in the state.
“California should not be subsidizing the destruction of our wildlife for the private profit of a few. This bill is an important step in ending an antiquated and cruel practice and bringing Californians wildlife management in line with the values of the overwhelming majority of Californians who value our wildlife alive, not as commodities to be killed and skinned for foreign fur markets,” said Brendan Cummings, Conservation Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is cosponsoring the legislation.
AB 273 addresses the funding shortfall in the state’s fur trapping program by banning the practice in California. The measure also protects our vulnerable wildlife.
“California’s ecosystem is among the most fragile in the world, and our wildlife is already under constant threat from wildfire, drought, and development – the last thing they need is to try to survive an outdated and heartless fur trapping policy that only benefits a wealthy few overseas,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation, also a cosponsor of the bill. “Californians want to protect our wildlife, and this bill does just that. I urge the legislature to pass it quickly on behalf of the animals across our state, and the people who care about them.”
Commercial fur trapping can involve killing animals through strangulation, gassing and anal electrocution in order to ensure undamaged pelts. This cruel and inhumane practice has led many famous brands to commit to going fur-free, including companies like: Burberry, Versace, Gucci, Michael Kors, Armani, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, among others.