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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 16, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 16, 2014 R Lefevre
Sep 16, 2014 Melissa Smith
Sep 16, 2014 Patricia Antonelli
Sep 16, 2014 Yvette Dominguez
Sep 16, 2014 Janet Lacetera
Sep 16, 2014 Martha Hildreth
Sep 16, 2014 Michelle Mcdaniel
Sep 15, 2014 Marcelyn Thomas
Sep 15, 2014 Victoria Mikhaylov
Sep 15, 2014 Judy Daniel
Sep 15, 2014 Nina Draper
Sep 15, 2014 Kimberly Amelang
Sep 15, 2014 Diane van Weelie Please ban the cruel and inhumane possum drop immediately. This is clearly animal abuse. Surely this event can be replaced by an activity that does not involve live animals being subject to abuse.
Sep 15, 2014 AJ Kepper
Sep 15, 2014 Mirjam White
Sep 15, 2014 asuncion mathey
Sep 15, 2014 Iku Liini
Sep 15, 2014 Peter Naslund
Sep 15, 2014 Charlisa Arthur
Sep 15, 2014 Evelyn Mayo
Sep 15, 2014 Debbie Crowe
Sep 15, 2014 Sondra Olson
Sep 15, 2014 Mira Momchilova
Sep 15, 2014 Irina Kutreva
Sep 14, 2014 Amber Mariscal
Sep 14, 2014 Ann Appleton
Sep 14, 2014 Liz Whitaker
Sep 14, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 14, 2014 Denice Liska
Sep 14, 2014 vanessa callens
Sep 14, 2014 Beverly Roberts
Sep 14, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 14, 2014 andrea whitehead
Sep 13, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 13, 2014 Cinthia Macie
Sep 13, 2014 Karen Masek This is disgusting! What is wrong with people??
Sep 13, 2014 Valerie Brown
Sep 13, 2014 Laura Vilela
Sep 13, 2014 Ken Ross
Sep 13, 2014 Chelsi Ritchie
Sep 13, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 13, 2014 Maria Vicareo No event is an excuse for cruelty to any animal! It's time to act like humans and end this disgusting abuse!
Sep 13, 2014 Sara Petrovčič
Sep 13, 2014 Tammy Lee
Sep 13, 2014 karen watton
Sep 13, 2014 Dana Myers
Sep 13, 2014 Bron Wicks

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