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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.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Feb 20, 2017 (Name not displayed) Killing innocent animals is NOT ENTERTAINMENT!! What black heartened people do this!!!
Feb 19, 2017 Major Escape
Feb 19, 2017 (Name not displayed) Disgusting. Possums are actually wonderful animals that only want to be left alone. This is sickening. Arrest the bastards doing this.
Feb 19, 2017 Noreen Newmark
Feb 19, 2017 Cathleen Cascia
Feb 18, 2017 Robert Okroi From beasts we scorn as soulless, In forest, field and den, The cry goes up to witness The soullessness of men. ~M. Frida Hartley The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" ~Jeremy Bentham
Feb 18, 2017 Rosane SELF
Feb 18, 2017 Karen Weir There is no good reason to exempt any state from anti-cruelty laws. "Family friendly" event teaches cruelty and gives children the wrong message.
Feb 18, 2017 julie munson
Feb 17, 2017 Yvonne Barker
Feb 17, 2017 Evelyn Kolackovsky
Feb 17, 2017 Jessica Isabel
Feb 17, 2017 Fred Coppotelli
Feb 17, 2017 Jinny Malik
Feb 17, 2017 Carol. Brandt Yet another facet of senseless cruelty.
Feb 17, 2017 Debra Beck Time to teach children to respect the law and abolish this cruel celebration.
Feb 17, 2017 Christina Kerr This is inhumane and no living being should suffer like this...please stop
Feb 17, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 16, 2017 Catherine Garrigus
Feb 16, 2017 PAUL Jean Stop please
Feb 16, 2017 PAUL Julie Stop the massacre please
Feb 16, 2017 beth lee simon
Feb 16, 2017 Mike Hughey
Feb 16, 2017 Lorie Witt Please STOP THIS
Feb 16, 2017 Betsy Ridge
Feb 16, 2017 Suzan Scribner-Reed Stand up against animal abuse!
Feb 16, 2017 Natasha Cresswell
Feb 16, 2017 Barbara Vieira
Feb 16, 2017 Louise Castonguay Stop the abuse of animals!
Feb 16, 2017 Bernadette O'Maoileidigh
Feb 16, 2017 Angela O'Reilly
Feb 16, 2017 Jean-Claude Morin
Feb 16, 2017 Kerry Lang
Feb 16, 2017 Denise Garner
Feb 16, 2017 Patricia Stanley
Feb 16, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Feb 16, 2017 Marjorie Jongstra
Feb 16, 2017 Donita Eade
Feb 16, 2017 Patricia Neves
Feb 16, 2017 Julie Roberts Stop this insanity!
Feb 16, 2017 Curt Afdahl For crying out loud, how about we make some progress in society instead of going backwards? I would say that where I grew up (SD) people aren't so cruel and hayseed-like, but that is not true. Each state has something that is shameful. Shame on NC.
Feb 16, 2017 silvia van bommel
Feb 16, 2017 Alice Cremonini
Feb 16, 2017 Linda Velez
Feb 16, 2017 Cathy Swanson Please stop this immoral practice. All animals. Have souls and God created them for a purpose
Feb 16, 2017 anny seavey HOW F ING SICK ARE YOU MALES WITH SMALL BRAINS , DICKS AND NO MORALS SLIME OF THE EARTH! Drop one of you assholes not the creature!
Feb 16, 2017 Kalliope M.
Feb 16, 2017 Deirdre Muir
Feb 16, 2017 Barbara Sergent
Feb 16, 2017 Marta Plewka

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