By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Update: The bill to ban fur sales has also passed the concurrence committee and will now head to the governor’s desk for his signature.
In two historic votes for animals, California lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to ban fur sales and to stop the trophy hunting of bobcats, who are often targeted for their distinctive look and coloration.
State senators this afternoon passed a ban on the sales of all new fur products. Last night the Senate passed the bobcat bill 31 to 8 (with one Senator not voting and just this afternoon the Assembly concurred.
The fur sales bill now heads back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote, and, if all goes well, it will soon join the bobcat bill on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for his signature.
Californians have repeatedly shown a deep concern for the well-being of animals killed for their fur and for trophies. Nearly 71 percent of them support banning fur sales statewide, and some of the largest cities in the state, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley, have already banned fur sales.
The impact of a fur ban in California would be immense. The state is often listed right behind New York as one of the most fashionable in the country. A fur sales ban in California would further reinforce to fashion followers and to the fashion industry globally – which is already moving away from fur – that most consumers no longer want coats, stoles and other accessories that involve raising and killing animals cruelly.
More than 100 million animals, like foxes, minks and raccoon dogs are now killed each year for their fur. These animals live in cramped, wire-bottom cages on fur factory farms, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors, and are cruelly killed by gassing or electrocution.
Some animals in the wild, like bobcats and coyotes, who are targeted for their fur, are trapped using archaic leghold traps. The animals suffer in these cruel traps for days without food or water, and these indiscriminate traps also often kill or maim non-target animals, including endangered species and pets.
Over the past few years, the California legislature and the state’s Fish and Game Commission have taken steps to protect bobcats from such cruel practices, including a ban on trapping, a ban on the use of hounds to chase down bobcats, and a ban on the sale of bobcat fur originating from the state. Despite these protections, hundreds of bobcats continue to be killed in California every year, usually for nothing more than a trophy and bragging rights.
Californians feel strongly about protecting bobcats: nearly 70% are opposed to trophy hunting these beautiful native carnivores. The bobcat bill that passed through the legislature will put a moratorium on trophy hunting bobcats, protecting this species and allowing the Department of Fish and Wildlife to gather much-needed scientific data on their population. Even without trophy hunting, bobcats still face serious threats to their survival in the state, like loss of habitat each year from human development, droughts stemming from the climate crisis that threaten bobcats’ prey base, and dangerous wildfires that continuously threaten their ecosystems.
We applaud Assemblymember Laura Friedman, who introduced the bill banning fur, and Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who put forth the bill banning bobcat hunting. Let’s take a moment today to celebrate these momentous victories for animals, and keep up the fight to get them across the finish line in coming days.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.