BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder could become the first city in Colorado to ban the sale of fur if voters approve of a ballot question to do just that in November.
Ballot measure 301, otherwise known as the Humane Clothing Act, would prohibit the manufacture and sale of fur within city limits.
The group behind the question, Fur Free Boulder, says this measure is about the humane treatment of animals and could set the city up to be an example for others.
“It will have almost no economic impact in the city of bolder. What it really does is tell the world that the future is going fur free, and that Boulder is a kind place for animals,” said Eva Hamer, an organizer with Fur Free Boulder.
If approved, Boulder would join California and East Coast cities like Ann Arbor, Weston and Wellesley to ban the product.
Hamer and proponents say the animals used for fur live in poor conditions and are killed inhumanely.
“You see the videos you see these conditions where animals are kept in these tiny cages and really unhygienic conditions,” Hamer said. “There are alternatives for the look, there are alternatives for the warmth, there are so many different ways to keep ourselves warm besides using the body of an animal who didn’t want to die.”
The ballot question does make room for some exceptions, though. The proposed ordinance still allow:
-Fur products where the activity is expressly authorized by state or federal law
-Fur used by native Americans as part of their religious or cultural traditions
-Used or secondhand fur
-Leather, cowhide, lambskin or sheepskin, etc.
Wool would also not be banned under the proposed ordinance. Hamer considers the ballot question to be very narrow and believes the ban would not affect many products or stores.
Others disagree and say the ballot language is too ambiguous. Laurel Tate is the owner of Two Sole Sisters in Boulder.
It is an independent shoe and accessory store off of Pearl Street that sells hats with poms made of raccoon fur, gloves and headbands made of rabbit and hats made of beaver fur.
“This affects all of us as independent retailers and at a time when we’re coming out of Covid and things have been really challenging this is crippling to our local economy,” Tate said. “I only sell what people want to purchase. That’s how I make my living and pay my mortgage. So, I have customers that want these products.”
She’s worried that the ballot language is so broad that it might be applied to more products than anticipated. She also disagrees with the proponents about the economic impact.
“I guess my question would be if this group doesn’t think there’s going to be a huge impact on businesses, why are they putting this forward?” she said.
Tate says if people don’t find what they are looking for in Boulder, they can simply drive to another city to buy the fur or turn to online shopping. She tries to get everything in her store from small vendors who ethically source the fur.
She doesn’t want to turn to fake fur products because those items are petroleum and plastic based, so they are less environmentally friendly than real fur. She also finds the used fur exception questionable.
“How are you going to tell one store that they can carry one thing, and another store that they can’t carry something? And who’s going to come out and make sure that this is happening? It doesn’t make sense,” she said.
If the measure does pass, Tate is planning to sue to at least delay its implementation since she has to buy her products several months in advance. She’s also hoping city council might make some changes to the language to clear up some of the confusion.
If question 301 passes, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. According to the Boulder city attorney’s office, a violation of the potential provision could result in a fine of no more than $2,650 per violation, jail time of up to 90 days or both.
City council could choose to amend the ordinance if it were to pass to comply with state or federal law or in other ways so long as it doesn’t interfere with the general intent of the ordinance.
Hamer and proponents see Boulder as the first step in a long fight against fur.
“We hope it can lead to for bans in other places, we hope it can lead to more animal friendly legislation down the road and we know that boulder really cares about animals,” she said.
Voters will have the ultimate say, though, on November 2.