Eyewitness This: California bans fur trapping for recreation, commerce

California on Wednesday became the first state to ban commercial fur trapping, ending the practice nearly 200 years after animals like beavers and otters introduced the American West to international trade.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he signed the bill into law making it illegal to trap animals for the purposes of recreation or to sell their fur. It is still legal to trap animals for other purposes, including pest control and public health.

California licenses for fur trappers have declined considerably. In 2018, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it sold 133 licenses, leading to the harvest of 1,568 animals and the sale of 1,241 pelts. A legislative analysis of the bill noted most furs are sold outside of California, with data suggesting there have been no fur sales in the state for the past three years. Meanwhile, the state has issued about 500 trapping licenses a year for pest control and other uses. People who trap animals for those purposes are not required to report how many animals they capture.

Newsom's office announced the bill signing on Twitter by referencing the governor's childhood pet, an otter he named "Potter." The announcement included a photo of what appeared to be an otter puppet exclaiming: "My friends & I should not have to live in fear of being trapped & our fur being sold!"

Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, have opposed fur trapping as contributing to declines animal populations, including sea otters and beavers. But other groups, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, opposed the bill, arguing ranchers and farmers hire commercial trappers to control wildlife and protect their crops. They say banning trapping and the sale of fur would end that practice.

For more stories making headlines, watch Eyewitness This.
Copyright © 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.