Why it Matters: Introduced earlier in 2023, Massachusetts House Bill 849 and Senate Bill 590, Acts Prohibiting the Sale of Fur Products, seek to prohibit the sale of fur products in the Commonwealth. With cowhide, lambskin or sheep skin, or pelts used in taxidermy excluded from the definitions of “fur” and “fur product,” the remaining fur or fur products can be attributed to lawful recreational trapping. By disallowing law-abiding trappers from selling the pelts without incurring additional costs, HB 849 and SB 590 would encourage wanton waste behavior and criminalize trappers and hunters for utilizing a harvested animal to its fullest potential. Restricting the sale of fur products would disincentivize trapping and the positive benefits trapping provides for wildlife management.
- On November 7, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter opposing both bills.
- On November 8, the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a hearing where many hours of testimony were heard, for and against the bills. While no vote was taken, there will be a forthcoming TBD date for a vote.
- CSF’s letter argued that these bills neglect to acknowledge the unique and irreplaceable role that trapping plays in mitigating wildlife damage, managing predator and furbearer populations, protecting threatened ecosystems, and serving as an integral component of modern wildlife management.
- The prohibition on the sale of fur products in the Commonwealth as defined would have negative consequences outside of Massachusetts extending to e-commerce and businesses who make clothing and products from their legal harvests.
Introduced earlier in 2023, Massachusetts HB 849 and SB 590, Actos Prohibiting the Sale of Fur Products, seek to prohibit the sale of fur products in the Commonwealth. Both bills define “Fur” and “Fur product” as, any animal skin or part thereof with hair, fleece, or fur fibers attached thereto, either in its raw or processed state, and any article of clothing or covering for any part of the body, or any fashion accessory, including, but not limited to, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, keychains, toys, and home accessories and décor, that is made in whole or part of fur, respectively.
Trapping is an important conservation tool in wildlife damage management programs that involve the eradication of invasive species that cause extensive habitat degradation and threaten ecosystem health. Properly regulated and monitored traps minimize potential for non-target capture and restore ecosystems to better support abundant, healthy, and sustainable native wildlife populations.
Trapping is highly regulated in Massachusetts, and trappers are required to successfully complete Trapper Education. The Trapper Education course includes the training required to use Bailey and Hancock traps (live catch beaver traps). Both a Trapper Education Certificate and a Bailey-Hancock Certificate are issued to students who successfully complete a Massachusetts Trapper Education course. Additionally, trappers are limited to using cage or box traps, common rat traps for the taking of weasels and Bailey and Hancock traps for beaver. All other traditional steel jawed, and body gripping traps are prohibited in the Bay State. These restrictions alone should alleviate any concern of harm being done to a non-target species.
The sale of pelts is also currently highly regulated in Massachusetts. Raw pelts of coyote, wild fox, wild mink, gray wolf, bobcat, lynx, fisher, marten, river otter, and beaver may not be sold in Massachusetts unless tagged by the state or province of origin.
Extensive research on restraining traps has been conducted through annual appropriations from Congress to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). Since 1996, Best Management Practices have incorporated trapping methods developed from this research for fur-bearing species. All common trap designs have been field tested for each species and all captured animals were examined by veterinarians.
By disallowing law-abiding trappers from selling the pelts without incurring additional costs, HB 849 and SB 590 are encouraging wanton waste behavior and criminalizing trappers and hunters for utilizing a harvested animal to its fullest potential.
Lastly, the prohibition on the sale of fur products in the Commonwealth as defined would have negative consequences outside of Massachusetts extending to ecommerce and out-of-state businesses who make clothing and products from their legal harvests. This prohibition would have negative effects on artisans and legal trappers alike.
CSF will continue working with in-state partners and the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to protect the Bay State’s trapping community from unnecessary prohibitions. Trapping remains an important conservation and management tool.