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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: 49,602
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

Nov 26, 2014 Victoria Russell-Fox
Nov 26, 2014 Teresa Bledsoe
Nov 26, 2014 Mark Hayduke Grenard
Nov 26, 2014 Lisa Bax When I read about this I could not believe it was real. It is almost 2015. Stop this horrific display of animal cruelty immediately! When you participate in a practice, you condone it. Shameful.
Nov 26, 2014 Mary Lewis This is just wrong. What are we teaching others and the generations to come--that cruelty is acceptable? We need to stand against abuse to everyone and everything; stop the bullying of those weaker than us as children learn, and do, what they see.
Nov 26, 2014 Melanie Paxton
Nov 26, 2014 Michaela Pennie
Nov 26, 2014 Tonisha Webb
Nov 26, 2014 Lydia Luna
Nov 26, 2014 Silvia Novelli
Nov 26, 2014 Anita Parys
Nov 26, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Nov 26, 2014 anneli persson
Nov 26, 2014 Michelle Austin
Nov 25, 2014 Valerie Lemmon
Nov 25, 2014 Kevin\Karen Henderson
Nov 25, 2014 Joshua sexton
Nov 25, 2014 leo E. Alonzo
Nov 25, 2014 Janis Ley
Nov 25, 2014 Amanisha Mead
Nov 25, 2014 Angela mills
Nov 25, 2014 Susanna Lupini
Nov 24, 2014 Dee borseti
Nov 24, 2014 Renee Duncan
Nov 24, 2014 Melissa West
Nov 24, 2014 Pamela Spacek
Nov 24, 2014 Sharon Harris What shameful behavior. Figures it's happening south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The ignorance of the south never ceases to amaze me.
Nov 24, 2014 (Name not displayed) Family friendly? What a sick cruel celebration!
Nov 24, 2014 jeanine mielke
Nov 24, 2014 Cathy Grovenburg
Nov 24, 2014 janet chatham
Nov 24, 2014 C Marais
Nov 23, 2014 Renee Burkhead
Nov 23, 2014 lesley livingstone
Nov 23, 2014 christa pellikaan
Nov 23, 2014 yvette lantz
Nov 22, 2014 Jacqueline Meldrum
Nov 22, 2014 Kimberly Cochrane Stop the "possum drop"
Nov 22, 2014 mary hoskovec
Nov 22, 2014 Sonia Casey
Nov 22, 2014 Della Avila Please stop this form of animal abuse and teach our children good things and not animal cruelty in the form of entertainment.
Nov 22, 2014 Andrea Bach-y-Rita
Nov 22, 2014 Maribel Ortega
Nov 22, 2014 Frances Hinkson
Nov 22, 2014 Kathlen Steinrücken
Nov 22, 2014 Cynthia Bellezzo How sick to treat a living creature like this. Imagine someone dropping your infant like this. ANIMAL CRUELTY MUST STOP!
Nov 22, 2014 selena gonzalez
Nov 22, 2014 Olivia Petty
Nov 22, 2014 Florencia Ferrero Motta
Nov 22, 2014 John Baughman

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