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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 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

Feb 27, 2017 Estelle Mouron
Feb 27, 2017 veronique BANDA
Feb 27, 2017 Jennifer Rhoads
Feb 27, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Feb 27, 2017 remi donneger
Feb 27, 2017 rene destizons
Feb 27, 2017 Christine marchand
Feb 26, 2017 Sherry Mainquist
Feb 26, 2017 Veronica Bilotti
Feb 26, 2017 Louise Coulson
Feb 26, 2017 labarre Paola
Feb 26, 2017 pascal federgrun
Feb 26, 2017 Jacqueline Raffalli
Feb 26, 2017 Sofia Madjitov
Feb 26, 2017 Joke Haan
Feb 25, 2017 Christina Chacon
Feb 25, 2017 Diane Thielemann
Feb 24, 2017 Susan Borys
Feb 24, 2017 Philippa Powers
Feb 24, 2017 Paul Statman
Feb 24, 2017 marie Hernandes
Feb 24, 2017 Sheila Matthews
Feb 23, 2017 Becky Napier
Feb 23, 2017 Adair Leonard Opossums were not created to be entertainment for people. Opossum Drop is just animal abuse, plain and simple. Anyone who supports this cruel activity is sadistic and has no compassion for animals.
Feb 23, 2017 DAvid Delagarza
Feb 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 23, 2017 Jessica O'Neal This is cruel and sick. Ignorant fools again abusing animals for "entertainment."
Feb 23, 2017 Hayley Alice Bradley
Feb 23, 2017 (Name not displayed) We are the most cruel, terrible, demented, idiotic, barbaric, savage, wicked, diabolical, ruthless, merciless, villainous, murderous, cold-blooded, stupid, foolish, evil, sinful, criminal, and corrupt species on earth. This is one of the reasons why.
Feb 23, 2017 Diane M McCoy
Feb 23, 2017 Theresa Tucker
Feb 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 23, 2017 Pamela Miguez
Feb 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 22, 2017 Jeannette Andersen
Feb 22, 2017 Sherry McGregor This is a sad event making North Carolina look like a backward state. This is cruel and uncivilized and if asked I bet the vast majority of the citizens of North Carolina are disgusted by it too.Please at least get this event humane in some way.
Feb 22, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 22, 2017 Kristine Richter
Feb 22, 2017 Kathy Taylor
Feb 22, 2017 Lou Iannucci
Feb 22, 2017 Natalia Avila
Feb 22, 2017 JANICK SANSON
Feb 21, 2017 Russell Riley
Feb 21, 2017 Lisa Voile
Feb 21, 2017 amanda clausen
Feb 21, 2017 Theresa Crovello
Feb 21, 2017 Lorrie Koenings
Feb 21, 2017 Naomi Dunlap
Feb 21, 2017 Marlene Meek

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