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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: 48,478
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 25, 2014 Luydmila Pavlova
Oct 25, 2014 Sheryl Greenhouse
Oct 25, 2014 Mani Nadjmi
Oct 25, 2014 David Lee
Oct 24, 2014 Beverley King America - you are better than this. Please stop this mindless violence and protect the habitat and animals which make Amercia unique.
Oct 24, 2014 Eden Kennan
Oct 24, 2014 jane Pascarella
Oct 24, 2014 Laurie Johnson
Oct 24, 2014 Mary Stubblefield
Oct 24, 2014 Donna Lynn
Oct 24, 2014 Susannah Martin
Oct 24, 2014 Doreen Hickey This behavior is quite despicable and uncivilized. Please see that it ends.
Oct 24, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 24, 2014 Carol Campbell talk about special interests by politicians, disgusting
Oct 24, 2014 donna crescioli
Oct 24, 2014 Eric Schneider
Oct 24, 2014 Andrea Fogt
Oct 24, 2014 Gloria Esparza
Oct 24, 2014 Rosalyn MORROW
Oct 24, 2014 Sharon Vickery
Oct 24, 2014 Elizabeth Peterson Stop using LIVE ANIMALS as entertainment. Maybe we can put one of Roger West's kids in the box instead?
Oct 24, 2014 Richard and Judith Mindrum This does not teach children to be humane and shines a light on humanity that is in suspect as to what is entertainment and what is cruelty. Surely you can find a more humane way to celebrate!!
Oct 24, 2014 Lucy Gibson
Oct 24, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 24, 2014 Debby Roegner I can't believe that something like this goes on in this day and age! It's despicable!
Oct 24, 2014 (Name not displayed) Terrible! Why do the animals always have to suffer because they cannot "fight" back. Just leave them all be and do what they were put on this earth to do!
Oct 24, 2014 Machteld Wierenga
Oct 24, 2014 Sheila Phipps Roger West, Have you lost your mind...? To publically and politically support change that endanger a life (animal or human)...? Shame, shame, shame on you!!!
Oct 24, 2014 Jaq Sampson
Oct 24, 2014 Patricia Hawke How is animal abuse an acceptable "tradition."
Oct 24, 2014 Linda Smith
Oct 24, 2014 Sonja Ruthard
Oct 24, 2014 Sandra Sherman
Oct 24, 2014 Anne Willson
Oct 23, 2014 Emily Schmidt
Oct 23, 2014 Shyanne Levesque
Oct 23, 2014 alysa seymour
Oct 23, 2014 Paula Eppler Can't we just have an Animal Abuser Drop?
Oct 23, 2014 Holly Wright
Oct 23, 2014 Mayra Galutza
Oct 23, 2014 Margaret Davies
Oct 23, 2014 Richard Van Aken Sadism is the word.
Oct 23, 2014 J S
Oct 23, 2014 Sandra Gacic
Oct 23, 2014 Linda Probeck
Oct 23, 2014 Lori Gleason Time to "drop" this antiquated practice!
Oct 23, 2014 Alena Pimyakova
Oct 23, 2014 Mafalda Aguilar
Oct 23, 2014 Morena gambarelli

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