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California Is the First State to Ban Fur Sales

Animals
Protesters attend the 32nd annual Fur-Free Friday demonstration on Nov. 23, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Ella DeGea / Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that that bans the sale and manufacture of fur products in the state. The fur ban, which he signed into law on Saturday, prohibits Californians from selling or making clothing, shoes or handbags with fur starting in 2023, according to the AP.


The law goes beyond the sale and manufacture of fur and also bars residents from donating fur products.

"CA has no place for the inhumane & unsustainable treatment of animals," tweeted state assemblywoman Laura Friedman who authored the bill. "Now for other states to follow in our legacy."

The law defines fur as "animal skin or part thereof with hair, fleece or fur fibers attached thereto." For fur shoppers that means they will not be able to buy mink, sable, chinchilla, lynx, fox, rabbit, beaver, coyote and other luxury furs, according to The New York Times.

"The signing of AB 44 underscores the point that today's consumers simply don't want wild animals to suffer extreme pain and fear for the sake of fashion," said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States, as the AP reported. "More cities and states are expected to follow California's lead, and the few brands and retailers that still sell fur will no doubt take a closer look at innovative alternatives that don't involve animal cruelty."

There are some fairly significant exceptions to the law, especially for cowhide, deerskin, sheepskin and goatskin, which means shearling is acceptable. There are also exceptions for religious observances like the fur hats, or shtreimels, worn by Hasidic Jews and furs and pelts worn for traditional tribal, cultural or spiritual purposes by members of Native American tribes, as The New York Times reported.

Retailers who defy the law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, will have to pay $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for multiple offenses.

Similar bans banning fur sales have been introduced in New York and Hawaii, though they have not yet made it into law. The California ban does follow the lead of some of its largest urban centers, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley — all of which have some sort of fur ban in place. Additionally, several European countries have outlawed fur farming, including Serbia, Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic, according to The New York Times.

The fur ban was not the only animal rights bill that Gov. Newsom signed on Saturday. He also signed a few other bills designed to prevent animal cruelty.

One bill puts a stop to wild animals like tigers and elephants from performing in circuses. The law exempts dogs, cats and horses. It does not apply to rodeos.

Another law puts a moratorium on hunting, trapping and killing bobcats, and another protects horses from slaughter, as CNN reported. One bill that Newsom signed took aim at trophy hunting by expanding the list of dead animals that cannot be sold in the state legally.

"California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur," Newsom said in a statement, as the AP reported. "But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames."

The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) hailed the bills.

"Today is a historic day for animals in California, including those who have been whipped into performing in circuses, or skinned alive for their fur or skin," said Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, in a statement, as CNN reported. "PETA is proud to have worked with compassionate legislators to push these lifesaving laws forward and looks to other states to follow California's progressive lead."

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