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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

Jan 23, 2017 Jan Tucker
Jan 23, 2017 maija johansson
Jan 23, 2017 Karolina Kozłowska
Jan 23, 2017 Kathleen Tomlinson
Jan 23, 2017 Louise Odams
Jan 23, 2017 wolf Goldschmitt
Jan 23, 2017 Dawn Schanz
Jan 23, 2017 Sharon Dunford
Jan 23, 2017 Katherine Cadury
Jan 23, 2017 Patti Mickelsen This is unconscionable and disgusting - and apparently par for the course in the backward state of NC. Your more civilized citizens must be mortified to be associated with this barbaric "tradition"-what a joke! What a National embarrassment this is! Shame
Jan 23, 2017 Emmy Daskalaki
Jan 23, 2017 Joy Gooding
Jan 23, 2017 Jennifer Collins
Jan 23, 2017 Jon Humphrey
Jan 23, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Jan 23, 2017 Corrina Parker
Jan 23, 2017 Ulrike Kapeller
Jan 23, 2017 iouri wodnik
Jan 23, 2017 Patty Tomek
Jan 23, 2017 Corinne Ogren-Engeli
Jan 23, 2017 Lena Jalke-Fehrm
Jan 23, 2017 Nancy Hayden
Jan 23, 2017 Timothy Greer As an Opossum rehabilitator, I find it barbaric that one of the lives I helped saved would be traumatized in such a manner. Stop the torture.
Jan 23, 2017 Gary Hill
Jan 23, 2017 Gary Taylor
Jan 23, 2017 Buchannan Hill
Jan 23, 2017 Pinky Bustamante
Jan 23, 2017 Sharon McCluskey
Jan 23, 2017 Andrea Maria Beltrami
Jan 23, 2017 Alison Smith
Jan 23, 2017 Shani Terblanche
Jan 23, 2017 Shani Terblanche
Jan 23, 2017 Leigh Bernacchi Torturing animals is one step away from torturing people. Please consider the moral example you're setting for the treatment of wildlife and people.
Jan 23, 2017 Kathy Neal
Jan 22, 2017 Maria Molina
Jan 22, 2017 Denise Blything
Jan 22, 2017 Darlene Littlefield
Jan 22, 2017 Linda Granato
Jan 22, 2017 Becky Evans
Jan 22, 2017 Linda Macias There is no reason for this display of animal cruelty !
Jan 22, 2017 Krn leon
Jan 22, 2017 Brenda Edwards
Jan 22, 2017 Coleen Kane What in the f is wrong with people? Do they have any decency or common sense? Imagine if you were that possum would you be fucking happy ?
Jan 22, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 22, 2017 Eileen Tobaygo
Jan 22, 2017 joyce buckfield So barbaric , stop it now
Jan 22, 2017 brent hale you should all be killed
Jan 22, 2017 Pascale BOLLIET
Jan 22, 2017 Linda Simard Are they totally void of common sense and compassion?

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