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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 53,899
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

Jun 2, 2015 Monica Schreil Awful ancient cruel habits that have to STOP IMMEDIATELY.
Jun 2, 2015 Anita Hoos
Jun 1, 2015 samantha tupes
Jun 1, 2015 Ivan Brewer
Jun 1, 2015 Ellen Collins
Jun 1, 2015 Kim Zwicker
Jun 1, 2015 Rae Finan Schumacher
Jun 1, 2015 Linda Treuhaft
Jun 1, 2015 Jason Zastrow Please stop this out dated practice.
Jun 1, 2015 David Clemens Be humane. Stop the drop.
Jun 1, 2015 Gary Edwards
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jun 1, 2015 Jim Malone
Jun 1, 2015 Stephanie Adcock
Jun 1, 2015 Carol WOOD
Jun 1, 2015 Thomas Avery
Jun 1, 2015 Rebecca Lindsey
Jun 1, 2015 Roberta Gooseberry This needs to end today. These animals have feelings too. This is inhumane and needs to end. It also falls under child abuse. I mean come on.
Jun 1, 2015 Paulo Macedo
Jun 1, 2015 Melissa Brown
Jun 1, 2015 Christina Woodward
Jun 1, 2015 Annie Choinière
Jun 1, 2015 Undine Nestler
Jun 1, 2015 Faye Lash
Jun 1, 2015 Maura Ivan
Jun 1, 2015 Leslie Towner
Jun 1, 2015 Ilean Brown
Jun 1, 2015 Joanne Brennan
Jun 1, 2015 Kris Nill-Snow
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed) What are North Carolinian's, uneducated and inhumane? This practice must stop. I agree with the prior blogger who said the State and it's residents should be ashamed of themselves.
Jun 1, 2015 Martha Leahy
Jun 1, 2015 Mark Cohan leave these poor creatures alone. there are so few of them now with all the municipals killing them and raccoons and skunks etc as they have all virtually disappeared suddenly over past few yrs! shame on you for being so cruel to opossums!
Jun 1, 2015 (Name not displayed) North Carolina should be ashamed of itself.
Jun 1, 2015 Anne Havard
Jun 1, 2015 Glynis Simmons
Jun 1, 2015 Robyn Mery
Jun 1, 2015 andrea henry
May 31, 2015 Sherry Green
May 31, 2015 Elaine Brown Depraved and outrageous that this is allowed.
May 31, 2015 carole sherman
May 31, 2015 Alison Smith
May 31, 2015 Wayne Kingsbury How would you like to be hanging upside down by a rope, ready to be dropped, for the entertainment of a crowd of opossums? Not much fun as your neck breaks from the fall as all the opossums watch.
May 31, 2015 (Name not displayed) Seriously, how boring is your town that you find this entertaining?!
May 31, 2015 Marcia Haworth
May 31, 2015 Colleen McDonald What kind of people take part in this kind of sick, barbaric garbage...?
May 31, 2015 (Name not displayed) What possible joy can terrorizing a helpless opossum bring to this celebration? Such cruelty be banned year-round. A stuffed or ceramic animal should work just fine.
May 31, 2015 (Name not displayed)
May 31, 2015 Stephanie Betts

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