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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 51,065
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

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

Jan 29, 2015 Candace Niccolson
Jan 29, 2015 Sheila Fox
Jan 29, 2015 Liz krajeski
Jan 29, 2015 Dagmar Sykes Just disgraceful!
Jan 29, 2015 Tiffany Lee
Jan 29, 2015 Frank Steinmiller
Jan 29, 2015 DONNELL Brake
Jan 29, 2015 Brittany Dyke This is disgusting! You should NOT be creating a law to get around another law that protects wildlife for ENTERTAINMENT!! I am so disgusted knowing this was even ALLOWED to happen!
Jan 29, 2015 Isabella Ruggieri
Jan 29, 2015 Elizabeth Brooks
Jan 29, 2015 Anna Maria Bindi
Jan 29, 2015 Mary Sanders
Jan 29, 2015 Sonya Nel
Jan 28, 2015 James Mulconry
Jan 28, 2015 Kelsey Kennedy
Jan 28, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jan 28, 2015 Anthony Ping
Jan 28, 2015 Stacy Manuel
Jan 28, 2015 Alden Bodwell
Jan 28, 2015 Barbara McNulty
Jan 28, 2015 Melissa Prescott
Jan 28, 2015 Denise Fitzpatrick
Jan 28, 2015 Asia Taylor
Jan 28, 2015 Susan Vasquez
Jan 28, 2015 Richard Engle
Jan 28, 2015 floyd powell
Jan 28, 2015 Whitney Cook
Jan 28, 2015 amy archer
Jan 28, 2015 Linda Elgin
Jan 28, 2015 cynmae hester
Jan 28, 2015 patricia macmenamie
Jan 28, 2015 Bernadette Porter GOOD GRIEF!!! Are they kidding?! They should change it to a Redneck Moron Drop and put the event organizer in the damned cage!!!
Jan 28, 2015 Ruby Davidon Fusco
Jan 28, 2015 Sharon Weidensaul Please stop this barbaric practice.
Jan 27, 2015 Jocelyne Farouault
Jan 27, 2015 Pam Clement
Jan 27, 2015 jacques Zozkind
Jan 27, 2015 Judie Mackie
Jan 27, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jan 27, 2015 Alexis Harmon
Jan 27, 2015 Debra Cassiero
Jan 27, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jan 26, 2015 Rachel Bernhardt I have no words to describe how appalling I find the possum drop. Stop, just stop.
Jan 26, 2015 Teresa Orr
Jan 26, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jan 26, 2015 cindy Beville Stop the abuse!
Jan 26, 2015 Claudia Rodriguez
Jan 26, 2015 Emma CHristopoulos

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