California First in the Nation to Ban New Fur Sales

By: - October 14, 2019 12:00 am

New sales of rabbit and other kinds of fur will be illegal in California starting in 2023. Violators will face a fine for a first offense. CTK via AP Images

California became the first state in the nation to ban sales of new items made from animal fur, including mink, rabbit and coyote, after Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, on Saturday signed the ban into law.

“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a signing statement.

Newsom also signed a package of bills involving other animal issues, including banning the use of most animals in circus acts and legislation prohibiting hunting or killing bobcats in California.

But it was the fur ban bill that attracted the most attention from animal advocates. It will outlaw the manufacture and sale of new fur products in the state, starting in 2023. The prohibition will apply to clothing, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, or key chains that contain fur, and provides for a civil penalty for each violation.

There are some exceptions to the new law. Leather, cowhide and shearling are not covered, as well as fur products used for religious purposes. The law also has provisions that exempt used fur, taxidermy products and fur from an animal lawfully taken with a hunting license.

Backers of the California fur fight hope Newsom’s decision will lead the way for other states. The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco already ban fur sales.

Both the city and state of New York are considering fur bans. Hawaii also has a bill that would ban the sale of real fur. All the bills carve out exceptions for Native tribes or other indigenous uses of fur, and none of the bills covers secondhand fur.

But fur industry officials don’t see California as a bellwether. They argue that fur may be a vanity item in much of sunny California, but that is not the case in cold-weather states like New York. The Fur Information Council of America, a trade group, already has threatened to sue California over the law, according to the Washington Post.

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Elaine S. Povich
Elaine S. Povich

Elaine S. Povich covers consumer affairs for Stateline. Povich has reported for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and United Press International.