Capitol Alert

California becomes first state to ban fur-trapping as Gavin Newsom signs animal cruelty law

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Wednesday making California the first state in the nation to ban fur trapping.

Newsom’s decision was hailed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who authored the ban bill.

“Fur trapping is a cruel practice that has no place in 21st century California. The fact that the majority of California taxpayers overwhelmingly disapprove of this archaic practice and have been unknowingly subsidizing it for years is simply unacceptable,” Gonzalez said in prepared remarks. “I’m delighted 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.”

The law prohibits the recreational or commercial trapping of furs of animals such as gray foxes, coyotes, badgers, beavers and mink.

In addition, the law bans the purchase and sale of “products or handicraft items made from fur-bearing mammals and non-game mammals lawfully taken under the authority of a trapping license.”

The law does not affect state-sanctioned trapping programs, such as the plan to trap and eliminate all nutria from the Central Valley.

The bill was co-sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Fur-trapping has a long history in California that predates the Gold Rush. In the 1840s, trappers flocked to California to collect sea otter, seal, beaver, fox and other animal pelts. Russia once maintained a fur trading outpost in what is now Sonoma County. The site is preserved as Fort Ross State Historic Park.

Last year, the state issued 133 trapping permits, which trappers used to capture 995 muskrats, 105 gray foxes, dozens of skunks and other mammals, according to the Natural Resources Agency.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.