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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

Oct 1, 2014 Richelle Solomon
Oct 1, 2014 maria martha kracht
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 Caroline Plummer
Oct 1, 2014 Debbie Hess Appalling...& absolutely animal abuse! People should have evolved past this backwards ignorance, but to pass a law ALLOWING it is preposterous! SHAME on NC for your HEARTLESS, embarrassing, redneck behavior! Plz STOP this horror & set a GOOD example.
Oct 1, 2014 L Mannek
Oct 1, 2014 Jean Williams
Oct 1, 2014 Candace Garrett Please be as kind to animals as you would want others to be to you- STOP the cruelty done simply for your amusement.
Oct 1, 2014 Debra Crowe-Kuwaye what incredibly heartless behavior
Oct 1, 2014 Jessica Wilkans
Oct 1, 2014 Rahel Naegele
Oct 1, 2014 Art Bensen How about they drop Roger West ? I'll do my best to ensure North Carolina NEVER sees a single dollar of my money !
Oct 1, 2014 Amanda Fisher
Oct 1, 2014 Joy Serena
Oct 1, 2014 Ann White Appalling to treat animals cruelly.
Oct 1, 2014 Mike Riggin If you endorse this, you are condoning animal cruelty and should be imprisoned.
Oct 1, 2014 melanie mcmann
Oct 1, 2014 Laura Wyckoff
Oct 1, 2014 Elizabeth Eno
Oct 1, 2014 Jesus Montealegre
Oct 1, 2014 Carolee Grummer What is your with people. Why is animal cruelty so entertaining? Maybe someone should drop you on your head and see how you like it. I thought we were evolved beyond this. I was wrong. Please stop!!!!!!!
Oct 1, 2014 Donna Wise
Oct 1, 2014 Geoff Whittles y'all are sick fucks if you think this shit is in anyway justifiable. end it or kill yourselves.
Oct 1, 2014 Julie Harris This is simply cruel and unnecessary. Stop this immediately!
Oct 1, 2014 thomas dee
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 Frank Kraus
Oct 1, 2014 Rebecca Hyde
Oct 1, 2014 Diana Ward
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 Joyce Davis
Oct 1, 2014 Karen Snyder Sickening!
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 Noemie Del Duca
Oct 1, 2014 Mark Fletcher
Oct 1, 2014 Vanessa wells This act of cruelty must end right now! Any intelligent human can see the harm and sadness this ritual causes not only to the animal but to life!
Oct 1, 2014 Paul Dunfee
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Oct 1, 2014 Teresa Eshleman Please repeal this. Or why not use a bigger box and have a raffle and let one of the human inhabitants of the town be lowered? OOOOOWEEEE that sounds like fun.
Oct 1, 2014 Amrapali DebBarma
Oct 1, 2014 (Name not displayed) Amen!
Oct 1, 2014 Annette Herfurth
Oct 1, 2014 Kathleen Stephens
Oct 1, 2014 Patricia Greig
Oct 1, 2014 Ann White
Oct 1, 2014 Patricia KOCH
Oct 1, 2014 Margaret Howard This is just barbaric and America rivals China in the number of ways it abuses animals.
Oct 1, 2014 Jeannie Newton
Oct 1, 2014 Ann Zielinski

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