(Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a package of bills targeting animal cruelty, including the nation’s first state ban on the sale of new fur products.

The prohibition on fur means it will be illegal to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute fur products in California.

“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said on Oct. 12.

The ban under Assembly Bill 44, by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, applies to products like handbags, clothing and shoes that contain fur.

The new law exempts leather, cowhide and shearling, as well as fur products used for religious purposes. The law also has provisions that exempt taxidermy products, fur from an animal lawfully taken with a hunting license, and used fur.

Animal rights groups hailed the new law and said they hope it would inspire similar legislation across the country.

“The enactment of AB 44 reflects the evolving attitudes of compassionate Californians who reject ‘fashion’ made from tortured animals, and paves the way for other states — and ultimately, the world — to go fur-free,” said Fleur Dawes, communications director for In Defense of Animals.

Representatives of the fur industry, however, said Oct. 12 that they would challenge the new law in court, saying it would force longtime businesses to close with no compensation.

“Governor Newsom has now made California the first state in the nation to abolish a centuries-old, lawful, highly regulated, job-producing, environmentally sound, tax-paying industry,” said Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council of America.

The five-bill package signed by Newsom also included Senate Bill 313, by state Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, banning wild animals like elephants and bears from being used in circus acts.

The practice of animals doing dangerous tricks for entertainment was “deeply disturbing,” the governor said in a news release.

“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,” Newsom said.

In addition, the governor signed Assembly Bill 1254, which bans the hunting or killing bobcats in California; Assembly Bill 128, legislation aimed to protect wild and domestic horses from slaughter; and Assembly Bill 1260, which adds more types of animals, such as iguana and hippopotamus, to the import and trade prohibition of animals and dead animal parts.