Proposition 4 | Text of Proposed Law | Proposition 4 | Argument in Favor |
Trapping Practices. Bans Use of Specified
Traps and Animal Poisons. Initiative Statute.
Analysis by the Legislative Analyst

Current state law authorizes the use of specified traps to capture or kill for commercial and recreational purposes certain fur-bearing and nongame mammals in California. This requires a trapping license issued by the State Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Existing state law classifies mammals into various categories, including the following:

Currently, landowners and federal, state, and local government employees may capture or kill certain mammals that cause damage to crops, livestock, and other property; kill endangered species; or pose a threat to public health and safety. Allowable methods for capturing or killing these mammals include shooting, trapping, and poisoning. Currently, DFG, Department of Food and Agriculture, county agricultural commissioners, and water reclamation districts either operate programs to capture or kill such mammals or contract for such services with the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. Only authorized federal, state, and local officials and their agents may use certain poisons, including sodium fluoroacetate and sodium cyanide, to kill mammals that cause damage to property or pose a public health hazard. The use of these two chemicals is regulated by federal and state environmental protection agencies.


This measure places new restrictions on the use of traps and poisons to capture and kill specified mammals for various purposes.

Restrictions on Commercial and Recreational Trapping. This measure prohibits the use of "body-gripping traps" (defined as traps which grip a mammal's body or body part) for commercial or recreational trapping of fur-bearing and nongame mammals. The measure specifically identifies steel-jawed leghold traps (padded and unpadded), conibear traps, and snares as prohibited traps. Cage and box traps, nets, suitcase-type live beaver traps, and common rat and mouse traps are expressly excluded from the prohibition.

The measure also prohibits commerce in raw furs obtained by using these prohibited traps.

Additional Trapping Restrictions. The measure prohibits any person, including government employees, from using or authorizing the use of steel-jawed leghold traps (padded and unpadded) to capture mammals for any purpose, including the protection of livestock and other property, endangered species, and public health. Other body-gripping traps, such as conibear traps and snares, could still be used for protecting livestock and other property, endangered species, and public health, subject to existing restrictions.

An exception to the leghold trap ban would be provided for government employees, who may use a padded steel-jawed leghold trap when no other method is available to protect public health or safety.

This measure also bans the use by any person, including government employees, of sodium fluoroacetate and sodium cyanide to poison animals.

Fines. Violations of any of this measure's provisions would be punishable by fines and imprisonment. The Legislature would be able to increase, but not lower, those fines and penalties.

Fiscal Effect

To the extent this measure results in a decreased level of commercial or recreational trapping, there would be a negligible loss in revenue to the DFG due to decreased issuance of trapping and fur-dealer licenses. The DFG also would incur additional annual enforcement costs. The magnitude of these costs is unknown, but could range from negligible to several hundred thousand dollars annually, depending primarily on the amount of workload related to investigating violations of the measure's provisions.

Also, there would be unknown additional state and local costs for animal control purposes to capture and kill mammals that threaten property, endangered species, or public health. These costs could be from several hundred thousand dollars up to in the range of a couple of million dollars annually. Actual costs would depend on the cost-effectiveness of animal control methods not banned by the measure.

There could also be an unknown annual loss of personal income to landowners to the extent that allowable alternatives to the prohibited animal control methods are found to be less effective. The resulting loss in personal income tax revenue would probably be negligible in the context of total state General Fund revenues.

Proposition 4 | Text of Proposed Law | Proposition 4 | Argument in Favor |