Kotek Withholds Signature on Bunny Bill

The new law will allow the slaughter of up to 1,000 rabbits a year without a license.

Rabbits are a common sight along the Oregon Coast, having been introduced in the 1980s and rapidly increasing in population. (Alex Wittwer)

When lawmakers pass a bill, the governor signs it into law or vetoes it. On May 8, Gov. Tina Kotek did neither when House Bill 2689 came to her desk, allowing the bill to become law without her signature. That hasn’t happened since 2007.

The new law will allow the slaughter of up to 1,000 rabbits a year without a license, mirroring an existing law that allows the unlicensed slaughter of poultry.

Sen. Lynn Findley (R-Vale), a co-sponsor of the bill, knew some Oregonians would object to “butchering and eating cute little bunny rabbits,” but Findley noted Eastern Oregon has no year-round rabbit processing plant, and the animals are a cheap, healthy source of protein.

Lawmakers agreed: The bill passed with bipartisan support. But Kotek kept her pen in her pocket.

“Gov. Kotek supports the intent of the bill, allowing meat processing for small-scale, local farms,” says Kotek spokeswoman Elisabeth Shepard. “She also has a personal belief that animals should be treated humanely before being slaughtered, and believes rabbits and chickens should be added to Oregon’s humane slaughter statutes.”

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