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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: 61,410
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

Feb 8, 2016 Holly Upton
Feb 8, 2016 Mary Louise wosilis
Feb 7, 2016 Debra Nourse
Feb 7, 2016 DALE KASMAN Family friendly??? Stop this ANIMAL ABUSE & CRUELTY!
Feb 6, 2016 Meray Dedeci
Feb 6, 2016 Christine Goodstein
Feb 6, 2016 beatrice lelievre
Feb 6, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 5, 2016 Tania Bliss
Feb 5, 2016 liliane moraes
Feb 5, 2016 Natan Rai
Feb 5, 2016 Louise Reardon This must be stopped. The animal is scared, why would anyone call this fun. Leave animals in peace!
Feb 5, 2016 Althea Kippes There is no excuse for the public support of animal torture and cruelty. This barbaric practice must be stopped immediately.
Feb 5, 2016 Quennie Bonney
Feb 5, 2016 Marguerite Elia
Feb 5, 2016 Jordi Estruells
Feb 5, 2016 Dara Power
Feb 5, 2016 Marlena Lovewell
Feb 5, 2016 Nancy Aguirre
Feb 5, 2016 (Name not displayed) This really needs to stop; NC is such a beautiful place to visit and we have loved it. Bad publicity for your state & people, yikes.
Feb 4, 2016 Maria Vitória Magri
Feb 4, 2016 Cindy Lynch
Feb 4, 2016 Kim Petersen This law needs to be repealed immediately.
Feb 4, 2016 Lacey Collins Seriously who would think of this as entertainment and an acceptable treatment of any animal!
Feb 4, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 4, 2016 w verwijmeren
Feb 4, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 4, 2016 (Name not displayed) Just because they're "ugly" and not deemed wanted doesn't mean they should be subject to these types of abuse.
Feb 3, 2016 Yokota Sanae
Feb 3, 2016 Sharon Weiss
Feb 3, 2016 Sandy Hurst
Feb 3, 2016 Gail Davison Why are people doing this? It's animal abuse!!!! This needs to stop now!!!!
Feb 3, 2016 amanda Buonocore
Feb 3, 2016 JoAnn Cortina
Feb 3, 2016 Brigitet Eibisberger
Feb 3, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 3, 2016 Jennifer Chambers
Feb 3, 2016 Jessica Robinson
Feb 3, 2016 Dr. Doreen and James Reichard and Family
Feb 3, 2016 margarita blair
Feb 3, 2016 Suzanne Ursula Lebon
Feb 3, 2016 (Name not displayed) This a horrible act of cruelty!
Feb 3, 2016 Melissa Lohman
Feb 2, 2016 Paola Merlo
Feb 2, 2016 Maria Potamousis
Feb 2, 2016 leanne doescher
Feb 2, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 2, 2016 Jeanette Taylor
Feb 2, 2016 Jennifer Morocco

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