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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: 59,895
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

Nov 24, 2015 Rhiannon Hiller
Nov 23, 2015 (Name not displayed) End this insane cruelty or we boycott your state and goods!
Nov 23, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Nov 23, 2015 Barbara Wooten
Nov 23, 2015 Linda Toshner Please don't encourage dickheads like Roger West. If he wants something live to be dropped at midnight, then he should get in the box himself.
Nov 22, 2015 Azzah Suhayr This is disgusting! What kind of people would allow such cruelty and disregard for life?
Nov 22, 2015 Dee Hammons Possum are gentle, fruit-eating creatures! I'm a teacher and my students want this to stop!
Nov 22, 2015 Linda Wente
Nov 21, 2015 Debi Hertel
Nov 21, 2015 Lisa Shantz
Nov 21, 2015 Jessica Andrews
Nov 21, 2015 Alyce Fielding
Nov 21, 2015 Samantha Long
Nov 20, 2015 Rosa Pereira
Nov 20, 2015 Megan McMurray
Nov 20, 2015 Dwight Kennedy
Nov 20, 2015 Elodie Rodriguez
Nov 19, 2015 nancy salcedo
Nov 19, 2015 Sue Green
Nov 19, 2015 Brooke Goodhue
Nov 19, 2015 Robin Gregory
Nov 19, 2015 Patti Barnes
Nov 19, 2015 robin Hernandez You would think people were a little smarter than doing something like this. Grow up.
Nov 19, 2015 (Name not displayed) Stop this possum abuse!!!
Nov 19, 2015 Melissa Green
Nov 19, 2015 Vincenzo Landi
Nov 19, 2015 kelly caffrey
Nov 19, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Nov 18, 2015 Katarina Lang
Nov 18, 2015 Dena Yearwood Please stop this hideous act of the annual Possum Drop. Thank you!!
Nov 18, 2015 Melina Baron
Nov 18, 2015 Brian Billings
Nov 18, 2015 candace Frates
Nov 18, 2015 Jessica Whitehead
Nov 18, 2015 Whitney Campbell
Nov 18, 2015 Kristen Strong
Nov 18, 2015 debbie long
Nov 18, 2015 Kirsty Turner
Nov 17, 2015 Maja Lacković
Nov 17, 2015 corinne nygren
Nov 16, 2015 Carla Bond
Nov 16, 2015 sandra M
Nov 16, 2015 Claudine Stering
Nov 16, 2015 Kendra Baughn
Nov 16, 2015 Heather Carr
Nov 16, 2015 Martha Milne
Nov 16, 2015 (Name not displayed) Animal abuse - like slavery - is inhumane no matter how you dress it up. This must stop now.
Nov 15, 2015 Marie Hemphill
Nov 15, 2015 Lisa Silliman-French

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