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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

Aug 23, 2017 Heather Gutierrez
Aug 22, 2017 Christina Anderson Too bad there isn't a Giant Possum to scoop up these cave-men rednecks and drop them, from a very high place, while their mindless constituents cheer on their terror and demise.
Aug 22, 2017 Jean Galati
Aug 22, 2017 Kim Svien
Aug 22, 2017 Lou IAnnucci
Aug 21, 2017 Ruth Moore
Aug 20, 2017 Sue Jenkins
Aug 20, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Aug 20, 2017 Rosa Cabrerizo
Aug 19, 2017 Pamela Parker
Aug 19, 2017 Jeannette de Agnolo
Aug 19, 2017 D Shinn
Aug 18, 2017 Sylvie GENARD
Aug 18, 2017 Leanne Lee
Aug 18, 2017 Anna Mai Van
Aug 18, 2017 Joseph a. giuffre
Aug 17, 2017 Alysa Fleisher What a horrible and disgusting practice. I can't believe this happens in our own country.
Aug 17, 2017 Jessica McCauley
Aug 17, 2017 Franca Faustini
Aug 17, 2017 Michelle Maisonave
Aug 17, 2017 Joan Winchester
Aug 17, 2017 Estara Gold
Aug 16, 2017 jessica decker
Aug 16, 2017 Tammy Swoboda
Aug 16, 2017 Julie Reid
Aug 16, 2017 kevin ryan
Aug 16, 2017 Mauricio Ross
Aug 16, 2017 Mary Kay Siegel
Aug 16, 2017 ANN UNGER
Aug 16, 2017 Alexandra Harteam
Aug 16, 2017 Evelyn Peterson
Aug 16, 2017 Vanessa Zunn
Aug 16, 2017 Rodica Ardelean
Aug 16, 2017 Cheryl Page
Aug 16, 2017 Sally reagan
Aug 16, 2017 Robin Walenga
Aug 16, 2017 Jeanne Juliana
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 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

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