NH trapper registers anti-trapping trade names to end their use

  • Members of the N.H. Animal Rights League protest outside New Hampshire Fish and Game in 2015. Monitor file

Valley News 
Published: 3/30/2021 10:55:53 AM

Joseph Paolilli, a Swanzey resident, has registered NH Citizens Against Recreational Trapping and NH Citizens Against Trapping as trade names with the Secretary of State’s office.

He also said he plans to tell Kristina Snyder, the activist who operates anti-trapping social media accounts, to cease and desist using those names.

“She does not represent this organization as of (March 22),” Paolilli said in a phone interview Friday.

And there’s a twist: “I’m a trapper,” Paolilli said.

Paolilli’s actions escalate the ongoing dispute over trapping in New Hampshire. Snyder circulated a petition calling for two state Fish and Game commissioners, Paul DeBow and John Caveney, to step down because both are on the board of the New Hampshire Trappers Association, which is raffling off a bear trapping and hunting trip to Maine.

Paolilli is also on the trappers association board; he and Caveney both represent Cheshire County. Additionally, Paolilli is New Hampshire’s representative to the National Trappers Association.

“It’s something I did some research on and I found out she had not protected her trade name,” Paolilli said. He plans to render the trade names dormant.

Isn’t it kind of a dirty trick, though? “Such is politics,” he said.

Snyder had just learned on Friday afternoon of Paolilli’s registration of her group’s name and was still researching her options. She had used the name only on Facebook and Twitter groups. NH Citizens Against Recreational Trapping is not a nonprofit organization. The Facebook group has existed since 2012, when it was called NH Citizens Against Trapping. Snyder took it on a few years ago and renamed it to distinguish between recreational trapping and all trapping, including of nuisance animals.

That distinction is part of what upset Paolilli, who said that “there is no such thing in New Hampshire as a recreational trapping license. It’s a trapping license, that’s it.”

Snyder said she plans to talk to a lawyer. She’s looking into whether a trapping organization registering the name of an anti-trapping group might fall under a provision of the state’s trade name registration law that allows anyone injured by a fraudulent registration to recoup any damages suffered.

Snyder said she funds her activism out of her own pocket and from the occasional donation. She had recently paid to put up three billboards bearing the NH Citizens Against Recreational Trapping name, and wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to recover the $3,000 she spent if she cancels the ads.

If anything, Paolilli’s claim of the trade names appears to have made Snyder more determined.

“It won’t deter me at all,” she said. “What this will do is just encourage me to go even stronger.”

She has received harassing phone and email messages in the past, and sees Paolilli’s actions in the same light. “This did kind of come out of left field; however, it didn’t surprise me,” she said.

She also suggested that Caveney and DeBow should resign their seats on the Fish and Game Commission, “not only because of their support of this bear trapping raffle, but because a fellow director of their organization stooped to such low levels of bullying. They are not fit to be commissioners and clearly their bias belonging to this trapping group takes precedence over any decision-making they will do. They represent all members of the public as commissioners, not just trappers.”

DeBow, a former president of the New Hampshire Trappers Association, said he was not aware of Paolilli’s actions and wouldn’t have supported them if he had been. “I would not have advised that individual to pursue that,” he said Friday, calling the trade-name registrations “antics.”

A phone message left for Caveney late Friday was not returned.

Paolilli has been trapping for 40 years. The market for furs is meager right now, so he mainly traps for nuisance animals — skunks and raccoons in homes or beavers that build dams that threaten structures. “It’s basically what we call a cottage profession or a cottage industry,” he said.

In his zeal to put one over on his opponent, he might have poked the proverbial bear. The state issued 533 trapper licenses for 2019-20, fewer than the 576 issued the year before. The “NH Citizens Against Recreational Trapping” Facebook page has more than 3,600 followers.

Trapping is dying down, Snyder said.

As the number of practitioners shrinks, “these last-gaspers are going to get more and more desperate, and more and more angry,” she said.

If she has to rename her social media pages, she will, and she’ll register the trade name, too. Then she’ll explain it to her page’s followers.

“How are they going to react?” she said. “Is this going to light their fire up against trapping and trappers? You bet it will.”

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahan son@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.

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