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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 16, 2017 Doreen Walter
Aug 15, 2017 Lisa Hayes
Aug 15, 2017 Leena Desai
Aug 15, 2017 Michelle Ann Calnan
Aug 15, 2017 (Name not displayed) STOP this now. how horrible.
Aug 15, 2017 K. Youmans
Aug 15, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Aug 14, 2017 Barbara Vallini
Aug 14, 2017 Lynn Onorato
Aug 14, 2017 Daria C. Norton
Aug 14, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 14, 2017 Anna Zelinski
Aug 14, 2017 JUDITH COGAN
Aug 14, 2017 sheila gilbert
Aug 14, 2017 Rosemarie DiFrancesco
Aug 14, 2017 Annabelle Travis
Aug 13, 2017 Pat Atkins
Aug 13, 2017 debra Tomajko
Aug 13, 2017 Валентина Буйницкая
Aug 12, 2017 Brenda Silverstrim
Aug 12, 2017 Nellie Baez
Aug 11, 2017 Heidi Ansell
Aug 11, 2017 Kat R
Aug 11, 2017 Barbara J Anderson
Aug 10, 2017 Diana Zimmerman
Aug 10, 2017 Chantal Eldridge
Aug 10, 2017 Linda Holiday Stop this!
Aug 10, 2017 Andrea Haag
Aug 10, 2017 Kathy Woods
Aug 10, 2017 karen fostel
Aug 9, 2017 Lauri Moon
Aug 9, 2017 Sherry Holsomback
Aug 9, 2017 Tracy Smith
Aug 9, 2017 Lou Iannucci
Aug 8, 2017 Inês Correia
Aug 8, 2017 Adele Kirk
Aug 8, 2017 V Hirschhorn
Aug 8, 2017 Joanne Koulavongsa
Aug 7, 2017 Bonnie LaRosa
Aug 7, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 7, 2017 James Boneberg
Aug 7, 2017 Justine Boneberg This is clearly ANIMAL ABUSE! How can it be justified?
Aug 7, 2017 Andrea Hinkley
Aug 6, 2017 Laurine League stupid, cruel
Aug 6, 2017 C. Scott
Aug 5, 2017 dana newsom
Aug 5, 2017 Anna Borys-Malek
Aug 4, 2017 Georgia Benyk sick folks in North Carolina
Aug 4, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 3, 2017 jan allen

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