Trap Free New Mexico

Trap Free New Mexico is a coalition of four different environmental groups (Animal Protection of New Mexico, Born Free USA, Wild Earth Guardians, and Sierra Club- Rio Grande Chapter) that is pushing for a trapping ban on public lands in New Mexico. The group opposes trapping on the basis of its threat to public safety and native wildlife, including recovering, endangered species such as the Mexican Wolf, and notes that 63% of New Mexico voters think trapping should be reduced or eliminated. Trap Free NM has repeatedly requested that the New Mexico Game Commission:

  • Ban trapping on public lands
  • Create a regular, public rulemaking process
  • Impose stronger regulations on traps and
  • Grant coyotes and skunks special protections.

However, the NM Game Commission has instead decided to increase trapping (including in endangered species habitat).

Trapping (that is not capture-and-release and used for biological study) involves the use of body-gripping devices that ensnare or kill animals, usually for the purpose of obtaining their fur. Restraining traps (such as legholds), prevent the animal from leaving until someone arrives to kill it, causing the animal immense pain and anguish as it tries to free itself. Kill traps (such as Conibears) are designed to kill the animal immediately, but only work as advertised 15% of the time, causing tortuous injuries in cases of mis-strike. Trapping is indiscriminate in its execution and affects non-targeted species the majority of the time (such as cougar kittens, black bears, swift foxes and domestic pets, like cats and dogs).

Trapping is currently legal on all NM public lands, including U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state-owned land. In New Mexico, trapping may occur year-round without quantity limits. Trappers may place devices anywhere except for:

  • within 25 yards of a designated public hiking trail
  • within 25 yards of a public road shoulder
  • within 50 yards of a livestock/wildlife watering area
  • within 1/4 mile of a dwelling, public picnic site, campground, or boating area and
  • in Los Alamos County, Rio Grande Recreation Area (Taos County), the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest, McGregor Military Range and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Trappers may place traps in the water as well and aren’t required to post warning signs to the public or share trap locations. Thus, if you’re recreating on the public lands that we all own, you and your pets are at risk of encountering a trap (this is important to know, as a 2005 New Mexico survey found that over half of respondents were unaware that trapping was even legal).

New Mexico annually receives over 350,000 tourists who come to view the state’s natural wonders and wildlife, and trapping not only reduces wildlife numbers, but puts tourists at risk. Furthermore, trapping in the recovery areas of the endangered Mexican Grey Wolf (of which there are only 58 in the wild) has caught over 14 wolves in the past ten years, killing at least 2 and maiming the rest. However, the New Mexico Game Commission (which is Governor-appointed), has not responded to public comments and petitions seeking to restrict and ban trapping, and instead has sided with smaller group interests, ignoring the greater environmental and public good.

To learn more about trapping and take action:

Thank you to Trap Free New Mexico for educating the public on this lesser-known issue.


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Leilani Münter

Leilani Münter is a race car-driving environmental activist. Sounds unusual? It is, because she is one of a kind. After studying biology at the University of California, San Diego, this self-described “adrenaline junkie” discovered she had a knack for racing fast cars. That was the start of a new career for her, but she brought her environmental passions along for the ride.

Since her start in 2001, Leilani has had nine top 5 finishes in the male-dominated sport. Amidst competing, Leilani has been working to change the car racing industry from the inside out. In 2007, she became the first driver to neutralize her carbon footprint by adopting an acre of rainforest each time she races. In 2012 at Daytona, she spotlighted dolphin kills in Taiji, Japan with “The Cove” movie logo emblazoned on her car (she also gave away copies of the documentary to fans). Her overall goal is to green the entire enterprise by ensuring that racing stadiums are powered by renewable energy, race cars run on biofuels, and used tires are recycled. Leilani knows that some people think she’s crazy trying to change a practice that seems far from “green”, but this rallier firmly disbelieves in preaching to the choir.

Leilani says:

“If I stopped racing, I would not take a race car off the grid. I would just be replaced by another driver. Likely one that doesn’t go out of their way to take care of the environment, is not offsetting their carbon footprint with rainforest, and is not promoting green technologies at the racetrack. I would simply lose my ability to talk to 75 million race fans about green living and hopefully win some of them over.”*

After all, Leilani asserts, “That’s how you start creating change, by having a dialogue with people who don’t agree with you.“** And she certainly has a large audience to speak to- car racing is the #1 spectator sport in the US, and the second most watched sport on television. It is a fitting place to start showcasing sustainability in the 21st century (and a burgeoning one at that: in 2010, the Pocono Raceway installed a complete 25-acre solar farm and this year, NASCAR began using 15% biofuel in its cars). 

When Leilani is not advocating on the track, you can find her participating in dolphin hunt protests, lobbying Congress, or writing guest pieces for various green blogs. Food sustainability sits close to her heart, and Leilani, a vegetarian since age 6, wants people to consider their meal’s carbon footprint (she points out that “40% more greenhouse gas emissions come from raising animals for food than all the planes, trains, cars, SUVs, ships, and race cars in the world combined”). She also promotes the use of reusable shopping bags and energy efficient light bulbs and wants legislators to transition to supporting a green economy. Leilani says:

Green jobs in the form of renewable energy are waiting to be created, but we need Washington to act now to phase out the old fossil fuel economy, cut subsidies for oil and coal, and reward clean renewable energy that will create thousands of jobs here in the U.S. We need a smart grid to support electric cars, infrastructure for cars running on alternative fuels, and green buildings utilizing energy efficient systems and capturing solar and wind wherever we can and being able to send that energy captured back into the electrical grid.***

Leilani believes our continued reliance on oil poses national security issues and hopes to one day see gas stations being revamped as electric car charging stations. She knows the fight won’t be easy though…after all, she points out, “The top five oil companies spend $150 million every year on 750 full time lobbyists that live in DC working to get the laws written in their favor.”***

To learn more about Leilani (who was voted the #1 eco athlete in the world by Discovery’s Planet Green):

-visit her website (she even lists movie recommendations there!)
-read her essay “Why A Plant Based Diet Will Save the World“.
-*read the Discovery interview “Vegetarian Hippie Chick Leilani Münter Drives Change with Her Race Car“, 11/29/12.
-**read the CNN article “She’s Racing to Save the Environment“, 9/2/10.
-***read the Eco-Chick article “Heroines for the Planet: Race Car Driver & Environmental Activist Leilani Munter“, 7/1/11.

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Bamboo Sushi

Do you like sushi? When you go out to a sushi restaurant, do you ever consider where the fish came from, how it was caught, and what chain of events led it to your plate? If you’re the average consumer, probably not, but Bamboo Sushi CEO & Founder Kristofor Lofgren is aiming to change that!

Lofgren was planning a career in environmental law when he happened upon a failing sushi business. Seeing it as an opportunity for reinvention, he bought out the partners and created Bamboo Sushi, a restaurant modeled on sustainability. Unlike many restaurants that have hopped on the green train only to add an inconclusive pledge at the bottom of the menu, Bamboo Sushi has been designed completely around a web of eco-friendliness. This doesn’t come too soon- in 2010, the United Nations calculated that approximately 85% of the world’s fisheries were either overfished or at their limits. In addition, current commercial fishing methods create enormous wastes of life- for every 1 lb of fish that’s kept, 5 lbs are thrown back, including dead dolphins, whales, birds, sharks and sea turtles. Then, 20-45% of the seafood that makes it to gigantic storage facilities becomes inedible because of improper storage and transportation. Such enormous carelessness comes at huge costs- current rates of overfishing, combined with climate change, pollution and habitat destruction will make our oceans entirely devoid of fish by 2048.

Lofgren is fighting overfishing by changing the consumer’s expectations of fish- he wants eaters to know that sustainably caught, healthy fish feels better and tastes better. All of the fish served at Bamboo Sushi come from plentiful populations and are caught selectively, avoiding ecosystem harm. Bamboo Sushi follows the recommendations of institutions such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which advise fish consumption decisions based on each species’ capacity. Lofgren also extends his sustainable intentions to other aspects of the dining experience, including using local, grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic-free meats; 100% renewable energy; reusable teak chopsticks; double-flush toilets; biodegradable to-go containers; composting and more. Further, he uses a portion of the restaurant’s proceeds to support protected marine areas where fishing isn’t allowed, such as the 405,000 acre Berry Islands Marine Reserve in the Bahamas.

As for any nay-sayers who doubt Bamboo Sushi’s implements are cost-effective, the restaurant is doing quite well! They’ve expanded with a 2nd location and were voted one of the country’s best 10 sushi restaurants by Bon Appetit Magazine. Perhaps that proves Lofgren’s point: eating with a conscience is better!

For more information on sushi’s effects on the planet, watch The Story of Sushi (below):

Also, check out Seafood Watch Recommendations for your region of the country!

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