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Goal: 75,000 Progress: 62,632
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

Aug 27, 2016 Linda Cummings You're kidding, right? There is a breed of people in this state that actually think this is good ol entertainment? Thanks for the tip, I will NEVER set foot in this God forsaken state as long as I live.
Aug 27, 2016 Diana Fisher
Aug 27, 2016 Lola Cassi
Aug 27, 2016 Carla Horn This is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard about. Stop this madness.
Aug 26, 2016 Anne Postell
Aug 26, 2016 Carol Greenhill
Aug 26, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 26, 2016 Marlène Bisson
Aug 25, 2016 Eileen O'Neill Possums eat millions of ticks a day. Important part of our ecosystem.
Aug 25, 2016 J Botts
Aug 25, 2016 Amy West Stop the barbarity now. This is cruel and inhumane treatment of an animal. Its abominable.
Aug 24, 2016 Claudia Binfa
Aug 24, 2016 r vanstrien
Aug 24, 2016 Anne-Britt Ose Kaltun
Aug 24, 2016 Lisa Murphy
Aug 24, 2016 Theresa Tucker
Aug 24, 2016 Leslie Perritt
Aug 24, 2016 Lisa Sherman
Aug 23, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 23, 2016 maria gabriella mucci
Aug 22, 2016 k manning
Aug 22, 2016 JOHN DYLLA
Aug 22, 2016 Lisa Breneman Breneman
Aug 22, 2016 Michèle Becouze
Aug 21, 2016 Jan Johnson I can't believe something this cruel is going on. Wake up all animals have feelings and feel pain probably more then you do.
Aug 21, 2016 Gerald Peake
Aug 21, 2016 Ines Swain
Aug 21, 2016 Alexander Dolowitz
Aug 21, 2016 Lori Harner
Aug 21, 2016 colin redwood
Aug 20, 2016 Deborah Jones
Aug 20, 2016 Marilyn Yeutsy
Aug 20, 2016 Virginia Dempsey
Aug 20, 2016 Laura Bell
Aug 20, 2016 Pietra McNamara
Aug 19, 2016 jennifer Koval
Aug 19, 2016 Averill Waterhouse
Aug 19, 2016 Melanie Clements
Aug 19, 2016 Deborah Foster
Aug 19, 2016 misty carr
Aug 19, 2016 Jean Miksic
Aug 19, 2016 Flavia Perizzolo
Aug 19, 2016 Terry Smith
Aug 19, 2016 Melissa Hatfield
Aug 19, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 19, 2016 Stella Blue
Aug 18, 2016 Sam McLeod
Aug 18, 2016 Renee Price This is America where we are supposed to know better.
Aug 18, 2016 Conor Gowling

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