On Tuesday morning, the West Hollywood City Council voted to ban the sale of fur in the city, pending a financial impact statement. A final vote comes in October. Since about 46 percent of the stores in the municipality currently sell fur or fur-trimmed products, the ban was criticized as being anti-business, though the council thinks the financial study won’t bear this assertion out.

“This is a tiny city, so it’s mostly symbolic,” said Councilman John D’Amico, who sponsored the fur ban. “I think the impact will be heard from here to Fifth Avenue. People will talk about what a fur ban means in a new way,” according to the New York Times.

West Hollywood (aka WeHo) is the first locality in the U.S. to ban fur — leather is still allowed — and it’s not the first time the progressive-minded city has passed a controversial law or been successful in influencing others. In 1996, the city banned the sale of cheap handguns, a move that was followed by other cities and eventually by the state of California. The city also bans cat declawing and the sale of dogs and cats, rules that have been imitated in other localities.

But are people still buying fur?

Yes. Despite thousands of protests and millions of petition signatures, coats made from the fur of farmed and wild animals still finds its way to stores. (And it’s more trendy than ever in Eastern Europe among the newly rich). While full fur coats are less popular in the U.S. than they had been during the heyday of the '70s and '80s, fur from foxes, beavers, and raccoons (often leg-trapped) and rabbits and minks (which are usually farm-raised) have found their way back into clothes as trims and other decorative elements. About 50 million animals are killed each year for fur coats and trim, some of them humanely, some not so much.


PETA reports: “Cities like West Hollywood and communities all around the country are recognizing that the fur trade is barbaric, cruel and not fashionable," said Fur Free West Hollywood campaign organizer Shannon Keith.


Do you think other cities will follow suit? Is this the beginning of a new anti-fur movement with roots in legislation rather than protest?

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

West Hollywood City Council bans fur
The West Hollywood City Council voted to ban the sale of fur in the city, pending a financial impact statement. The ban was criticized as being anti-business, t