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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

Aug 20, 2014 Arlene Fullaway
Aug 20, 2014 Paola Frignani
Aug 20, 2014 (Name not displayed) This is horrible! A civilized society does not kill animals for cruelty spectator events!!! Our country is lost we murder babies & innocents & call this FUN! No wonder we are growing serial killers!
Aug 20, 2014 Julei Capps
Aug 20, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 20, 2014 Danielle Nascimento
Aug 20, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 20, 2014 Tracey Newman
Aug 20, 2014 (Name not displayed) This is just plain cruel and needs to be stopped.
Aug 20, 2014 Terrie Matson
Aug 20, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 20, 2014 Dennis Braun
Aug 20, 2014 Tony Botha
Aug 20, 2014 Lissa Moris
Aug 20, 2014 gabriele hensinger
Aug 20, 2014 Tc Dininno Foolish human animals
Aug 20, 2014 Alison Painter
Aug 20, 2014 Caroline Constantinou
Aug 20, 2014 Kalia Hansson
Aug 20, 2014 Jana Rautenbach
Aug 19, 2014 Mary Moghadam
Aug 19, 2014 dhruti shah We have moral obligation to protect animals. Wake up your senses. Stop hurting animals.
Aug 19, 2014 KELLY Kaltenbach
Aug 19, 2014 anne carlson
Aug 19, 2014 Patty Currey
Aug 19, 2014 Amy Walker Time to stop this barbaric and pointless act
Aug 19, 2014 gloriag martinez
Aug 19, 2014 Natalie Pepper How can you justify doing this to a living creature? What is the point? Is this town full of bararians or what? It's not okay to torment and terrify ANY living creature, whether they are animal or human.
Aug 19, 2014 Dennise Waldron
Aug 19, 2014 Mandy Statham I just can't believe some of these Disgusting Entertainment for some people, using Animals like that... How sick!
Aug 19, 2014 Carol L Piwowar UNACCEPTABLE !
Aug 19, 2014 Rebecca Edstrom
Aug 19, 2014 Marleen Neus
Aug 19, 2014 Lucy MacArthur This is an outrageous display of cruelty and one which surely cannot be much longer practiced by a supposedly developed community?
Aug 19, 2014 Kathleen Kordecki Why not drop a few of the loud partiers instead!!!! Stop this insane and inhumane activity!!! NOW!!!
Aug 19, 2014 Angela Lindsey
Aug 19, 2014 Kathy Aprile Animal cruelty is ungodly.
Aug 19, 2014 Sylwia Zielinska
Aug 19, 2014 Katrina Monarchi For the love of God, what is wrong with us how can we treat Gods beautiful creatures like this. Please stop now!
Aug 19, 2014 Sophia Marx
Aug 19, 2014 Lloyd Johnson
Aug 19, 2014 susy quatela
Aug 19, 2014 Jennifer Bralley
Aug 19, 2014 olga karadaki
Aug 18, 2014 sue lampione
Aug 18, 2014 Carlos Madeira
Aug 18, 2014 Melissa Dagley
Aug 18, 2014 Kimberly Johnson
Aug 18, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 18, 2014 Liz Burns

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