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Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Oct 21, 2017 Bruce Ross
Oct 20, 2017 Monica Preis
Oct 20, 2017 Linda Romano
Oct 20, 2017 Isabel Sobral
Oct 20, 2017 Mr and Mrs Richard N. Huff
Oct 19, 2017 kay buhler
Oct 19, 2017 Karen Daley Terrible consequence for wildlife in the US. Can't imagine that people go for this. How demented can a group of people get?
Oct 19, 2017 Stacy Schermerhorn
Oct 19, 2017 Ingrid Heckl
Oct 19, 2017 Alexandre Pereira
Oct 19, 2017 Barbara gale
Oct 17, 2017 Debbie Sandberg
Oct 17, 2017 janine pol
Oct 17, 2017 kim runnoe
Oct 17, 2017 Laura Biel
Oct 17, 2017 Synnove Steinmo
Oct 17, 2017 Heidi Wollum
Oct 16, 2017 Brent Pennell
Oct 16, 2017 Karen Wilkinson
Oct 16, 2017 Karen Broten People are getting dumber by the day
Oct 16, 2017 Diane Webster
Oct 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 14, 2017 Kate Bernhart
Oct 14, 2017 Rita Council
Oct 14, 2017 Karl-Heinz Braun
Oct 13, 2017 Roseann Maziarek
Oct 13, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 13, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 13, 2017 Sandra Kuschel
Oct 13, 2017 Giovanna Martinez
Oct 13, 2017 María Jose Saenz
Oct 13, 2017 Martha Swartz Idiot behavior. Aren't you proud.
Oct 13, 2017 Lisa Sala
Oct 13, 2017 Linda Burrows
Oct 12, 2017 andree luron
Oct 12, 2017 Haley Svec
Oct 12, 2017 Janet Henkel
Oct 12, 2017 Jen vonSchlieder
Oct 11, 2017 Gail Ruth Gonsor
Oct 11, 2017 Dawn Byrnes
Oct 11, 2017 Barry Faust
Oct 10, 2017 Dale Zale
Oct 10, 2017 Jillian Beaulieu
Oct 10, 2017 Ruth Sheffi
Oct 10, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 10, 2017 Laura Prohaska
Oct 10, 2017 Nancy Jacobs
Oct 10, 2017 Kelly Moser

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