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On 10/10/2014 the Animal Rescue Site mailed 47,908 signatures to Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant urging them to continue advocating for the repeal of SL 2014-7. While we wait for a response from them, please continue to sign and share this petition with your friends and fellow animal advocates!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 48,362
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

Oct 19, 2014 (Name not displayed) terrifying this little animal for fun...sounds like bullying to me. Is that what we want to teach the next generation? Please stop!
Oct 19, 2014 Gloria Soto
Oct 19, 2014 linda creech
Oct 19, 2014 Maud Morin
Oct 19, 2014 Dave Halligan
Oct 19, 2014 Carole Reed Animal cruelty cannot be defended under the guise of entertainment. This behavior can also be viewed as stupidity performed by unknowingly foolish people.
Oct 19, 2014 connie Zickler
Oct 19, 2014 MaryAnna Hunt
Oct 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 19, 2014 amy windhausen
Oct 19, 2014 Dianna Slowey-Thomas
Oct 18, 2014 Michelle Hellstern No words...
Oct 18, 2014 Kelly Ludwig
Oct 18, 2014 Jose Duran
Oct 18, 2014 Sunshine Olivarez
Oct 18, 2014 Nancy Garriso
Oct 18, 2014 Jane White
Oct 18, 2014 Jane White
Oct 18, 2014 Jana Harker
Oct 18, 2014 Debbie English
Oct 18, 2014 brigitte whitlow
Oct 18, 2014 Thom Bernhard
Oct 18, 2014 anna pasicznyk
Oct 18, 2014 charlie roberts
Oct 17, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 17, 2014 Tina Van Rikxoord
Oct 17, 2014 Renata Ost
Oct 17, 2014 Kristen Wilhelm Stop this immediately. It is barbaric and inhumane to treat animals this way
Oct 17, 2014 Svetlana Novotna
Oct 17, 2014 Etta McWhirter
Oct 17, 2014 Connie Palladini
Oct 17, 2014 Rebekah Wallace
Oct 17, 2014 Claire Conley
Oct 17, 2014 Nicola Breen Patrick
Oct 17, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 17, 2014 Nina Wilson
Oct 17, 2014 Irene Bohmann
Oct 17, 2014 bobbye sisk really can you not find another way to clebrate new years what's next the family pet?
Oct 17, 2014 john durkin
Oct 17, 2014 Tina Anderson
Oct 17, 2014 g h
Oct 17, 2014 jo cole
Oct 17, 2014 Dawna DiOrio
Oct 17, 2014 Jeffrey Shivar
Oct 17, 2014 Tony Buitrago
Oct 17, 2014 Jürgen Breu
Oct 17, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 17, 2014 Amy Baker
Oct 17, 2014 Nancy Newman
Oct 17, 2014 Tiffany Toomey

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