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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:

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

Sep 21, 2014 christine waddell
Sep 21, 2014 Sophie Cumming
Sep 21, 2014 Peg Kucek
Sep 21, 2014 Sarah Fisher
Sep 21, 2014 Cynthia Guzman Hard to believe that in 2014 we need a petition to stop this animal cruelty and common sense does not prevail. Are you kidding me????
Sep 21, 2014 Lorraine Forston
Sep 21, 2014 dawn male That's still a form of torture. They're God's creature's, after all. I wouldn't do that to a snake in a bag, but someone from India would. But here, I would consider it cruelty.
Sep 21, 2014 Ann Latham
Sep 21, 2014 monika pettersen
Sep 21, 2014 Melinda Belfield
Sep 21, 2014 Peter Ozzimo Jr
Sep 21, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 21, 2014 Liz Hawthorne
Sep 21, 2014 (Name not displayed) Help !
Sep 20, 2014 Wayne Bassett
Sep 20, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 20, 2014 Sara DuBois
Sep 20, 2014 Susan Weiner
Sep 20, 2014 Tess Bryan
Sep 20, 2014 Janice Briggs Please stop this cruelty !!!!!!!!
Sep 20, 2014 Stacie Miller
Sep 20, 2014 sophie avoustin
Sep 20, 2014 jen koala
Sep 20, 2014 Hans Overton This is animal abuse on a whole other level. It makes no sense at all. Please put an end to it.
Sep 20, 2014 sonali sinha
Sep 20, 2014 kaitlyn odonnell
Sep 20, 2014 Denise Potter
Sep 20, 2014 Susan Averitt
Sep 20, 2014 Rev. Paula Hart
Sep 20, 2014 Maria Simao
Sep 20, 2014 Christina Plogger Just... Wow. How ridiculous and cruel.
Sep 20, 2014 lindasue &Mike Cappisillo
Sep 20, 2014 Rachel Jenkins
Sep 20, 2014 anne pham-sacilotto
Sep 20, 2014 Fallon Guinn
Sep 19, 2014 Nicole O'Brien
Sep 19, 2014 Ellysian Paredes
Sep 19, 2014 Maria McGlashan
Sep 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 19, 2014 Frederick McMullen
Sep 19, 2014 Roswitha Marcuzzi
Sep 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 19, 2014 Marcia Rand
Sep 19, 2014 (Name not displayed) This is appalling!
Sep 19, 2014 Joe Ward
Sep 19, 2014 Heather Spivey
Sep 19, 2014 Linda Dabrowski How about an event organizer drop
Sep 19, 2014 Patti Clark Maybe they should use State Representative Roger West as the 'drop'. His mentality qualifies more so than the opossum's.
Sep 19, 2014 Linda Dennis
Sep 19, 2014 sandra bronson

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