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Goal: 75,000 Progress: 62,993
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

Oct 28, 2016 Vartan Karasseferian
Oct 28, 2016 Kandy Rogers
Oct 28, 2016 Jeanne Lyke Really people????!!!!
Oct 28, 2016 Jill Bernard So cruel. Stop this.
Oct 28, 2016 Annamaria Bonafè LEAVE THE LITTLE ANIMALS ALONE.
Oct 28, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 28, 2016 Matthew Claycomb
Oct 28, 2016 Denise Tankha
Oct 28, 2016 Carol Kasmicski
Oct 28, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 27, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 27, 2016 Janet Pridgen Stop exploiting these poor possums! They are marsupials and don't deserve this treatment. Have rehabbed several possums and they were not for entertainment. Stop this ridiculous how event.
Oct 27, 2016 Ruth Springer
Oct 27, 2016 Kimberly Sorenson Use a stuffed animal instead!
Oct 27, 2016 Rhonda Bilut
Oct 27, 2016 André Henrique Bacci
Oct 27, 2016 Catherine Cerny
Oct 27, 2016 Wendy Stark I don't care for "possums, but I certainly don't see how one can arbitrarily leave them out of an animal welfare bill. We could, I suppose, allow a child drop... I'm sure no one would mind. It's just one kid after all.
Oct 27, 2016 B. L. JONES You are aware, aren't you, that this despicably CRUEL stunt makes y'all look like a buncha stoopid HILLBILLIES, right??? And your equally despicable and dumb-assed defense of it only underlines that assessment. Your kids deserve MUCH better parents.
Oct 27, 2016 Barb Jones
Oct 27, 2016 jan pepper Surely people can enjoy the festivities without the cruelty what's wrong with you
Oct 26, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 26, 2016 Donna DeBroux
Oct 26, 2016 melissa mortenson
Oct 26, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 26, 2016 Margy Renner
Oct 26, 2016 Karen Gordon
Oct 26, 2016 Rita de Cassia Moraes Lima
Oct 26, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 25, 2016 Ingrid Bichler
Oct 25, 2016 Lori Romeo
Oct 25, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 25, 2016 Norma Peet
Oct 25, 2016 janice henry
Oct 25, 2016 Sheila Hartline Would you take time to read a bit about the opossum? Visit a wildlife rehab? Please consider what you are doing to this shy, defenseless animal and how it must feel.
Oct 25, 2016 Ann Bragdon
Oct 24, 2016 Julie Neuman
Oct 24, 2016 Marsha Croner
Oct 23, 2016 Olga Faletova
Oct 23, 2016 Linda Bricker Animals were not put on this earth for entertainment. Drop people for entertainment!
Oct 22, 2016 Stacy Lee
Oct 22, 2016 Michele Temple
Oct 22, 2016 Armida Franceschini I had a baby possum I rescued from his dead mother's pouch he was my faithful & loving companion until his death - I will always miss my Jr. Family Friendly nonsense we should love & protect our wildlife.
Oct 22, 2016 Lori Neuman Stop this possum drop! Cruel and heartless!
Oct 21, 2016 Todd Green
Oct 21, 2016 Novani Munawar
Oct 21, 2016 Gaia Gardiner
Oct 21, 2016 Tina Brewster
Oct 21, 2016 Jessica Wolf
Oct 21, 2016 Katarina ROSSLEROVA

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