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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.

Sincerely,

(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures


Jan 24, 2017 Janice Dixon
Jan 24, 2017 Rosemary Hafliger
Jan 24, 2017 Patricia Gehring
Jan 24, 2017 Teresa Moy
Jan 24, 2017 Sandra Forman 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.
Jan 24, 2017 Linda Belk
Jan 24, 2017 Nancy ONeal
Jan 24, 2017 Valerie Nordberg There seems to be a massive gap in basic education when so many people are hoodwinked into believing that performing animals do it for preference to living their lives in their normal habitat in a natural manner.
Jan 24, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 24, 2017 Lyn Wood
Jan 24, 2017 Cristina Turcotte
Jan 24, 2017 Lynne Doran
Jan 24, 2017 Frances Kelleher
Jan 24, 2017 Edith de Leeuw
Jan 24, 2017 Michael Hasson
Jan 24, 2017 Mary Shabbott
Jan 24, 2017 Renate Chappell
Jan 23, 2017 Kiera Ward-Maclou
Jan 23, 2017 Erica Romanowski
Jan 23, 2017 Brian Swift
Jan 23, 2017 Diane Boulais
Jan 23, 2017 Lynne Pendergast
Jan 23, 2017 Jackie Turner This is outrageously cruel.These are living creatures.
Jan 23, 2017 Kay Turrill
Jan 23, 2017 Cathy Reinheimer
Jan 23, 2017 Beth Baillie
Jan 23, 2017 Connie Devine
Jan 23, 2017 Brittany Rosas
Jan 23, 2017 Roselle Roa
Jan 23, 2017 Joanna Drake
Jan 23, 2017 Bradley Cordova
Jan 23, 2017 LORAINE YOUNG This is pure animal abuse. It is a crime.
Jan 23, 2017 Carol Taggart
Jan 23, 2017 pam gardner please stop this animal cruelty and abuse now!
Jan 23, 2017 Sara Lindstrom This is absolutely horrible😡 Must put a stop to it NOW!!!!!
Jan 23, 2017 Cindy Anderson Please stop this horrible practice immediately. Possums are sweet animals that would never hurt anyone. This should be outlawed.
Jan 23, 2017 Brian Cauchi
Jan 23, 2017 s hedgecoke Stop the cruelty to animals! Possums cannot defend themselves. They eat TICKS! They do a service when they live nearby!
Jan 23, 2017 (Name not displayed) It sickens me that people are allowed to behave in such a manner and abuse animals (living beings) at all, but especially for the purpose of entertainment. This must be stopped! Please put an end to this. It also promotes the bullying mentality.
Jan 23, 2017 Rennie Swan
Jan 23, 2017 Anja Kollbach
Jan 23, 2017 Nancy Nenad
Jan 23, 2017 Meghan Hamilton
Jan 23, 2017 Marie Jones
Jan 23, 2017 Janis Kindred
Jan 23, 2017 Carol Brecht-Wiles
Jan 23, 2017 Juli Teeters
Jan 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 23, 2017 Lori Udenberg There is nothing entertaining about any animal being harmed.
Jan 23, 2017 Raynell Heaton How on earth is this family friendly entertainment? Can you try to imagine how terrifying this is for the opossum? Please end this awful "tradition" and go back to the ceramic opossum originally used, apparently by much kinder people.

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