PLYMOUTH, Mass. (State House News Service) – Amid the routine articles up for debate at town meeting this spring, Plymouth voters are set to consider a less commonplace measure: A proposed local ban on the sale or trade of new fur products.
The prospective bylaw was brought forth in a citizen’s petition warrant article by Lauren Nessralla, a recent Plymouth North High School graduate and a current student at UMass Boston.
“Fur is an extremely unethical product. It comes from tortured and abused animals,” Nessralla told the Plymouth Select Board in February. She added, “These animals are killed by the cheapest and therefore most painful means possible, including anal and oral electrocution, gassing, clubbing and suffocation.”
Nessralla’s presentation to the board outlined the conditions found on typical fur farms, as well as the environment and health risks of raising and trapping animals for fur, including the further spread of COVID-19. The ban would apply to the sale of handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, keychains, toys or trinkets made with any amount of fur, as well as home accessories. It would not apply to products made from leather, cowhide, lambskin or sheepskin, and pelts used in taxidermy would also be excluded from the restriction.
The proposed bylaw specifies several exceptions, including second-hand fur products sold by consignment and thrift stores, furs used for religious practices, and fur products used for cultural and spiritual purposes by Native American tribes. Those who violate the bylaw would receive a fine of $300 per fur product and per offense.
If the article is approved, Plymouth would join a small number of other Massachusetts municipalities that have banned fur, including Wellesley, Weston and Brookline. There have also been efforts to pass a statewide ban on the sale of fur.
“We will be the most animal-friendly municipality in the state, with a ban on pet store mills, a ban on using animals in circuses and a ban on the sale of fur products,” Nessralla told the board. “This is something that will only reflect positively on Plymouth’s retailers and the town of Plymouth itself.”
There was little discussion of the petitioned article, but Select Board member Charlie Bletzer took issue with the fact that the restriction would not be applied universally. He also highlighted the affluence of communities that have already enacted similar bans.
“Take a look at the three towns that support it and go there someday and take a look at all the furs in those towns,” Bletzer said. “I’m not going to use the word hypocritical, but I don’t think — I’m not even sure what stores sell it and what stores don’t sell it right now.”
The Select Board voted 4-1 to support the article. The measure also received the endorsement of the town’s Finance Committee on a vote of 13-1. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed ban at town meeting, which is set to begin April 2.