California to impose fines for using elephant bullhooks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Trainers who use bullhooks to discipline elephants in California will soon be subject to steep fines under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Democratic governor announced Monday that he signed SB1062 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat.

Individuals, zoos, circuses or other organizations caught using bullhooks, baseball bats, pitchforks or other harmful devices will be subject to fines up to $10,000. They could also lose their elephant permit.

Animal welfare groups say the tools are inhumane, but some opponents of the legislation say they can facilitate care and research when used properly.

Brown vetoed a bill last year that would have criminalized the use of such tools. He did not comment on his decision to sign this year's bill, which takes effect in 2018.