SACRAMENTO (AP) — The great ferret debate is returning to California.

Lovers of the furry creatures have been lobbying for years to legalize ferret ownership in California, but have suffered repeated rejections at the statehouse.

Now, they’re going the way of the initiative.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Friday that an initiative to legalize ferret ownership has been cleared to begin collecting signatures to appear on the 2016 ballot.

They’ve been prohibited pets since 1933.

Lawmakers approved a bill legalizing ferret ownership in 2004, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

The new proposal would require all pet ferrets over six months old to get annual rabies vaccinations and all those sold in retail stores to be spayed or neutered.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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