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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

Sep 26, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Sep 25, 2017 Sonia Paquin
Sep 25, 2017 Diane Hall
Sep 25, 2017 Terri Robb Opossums are amazing animals. They are gentle, eat insects and small rodents, and do not carry rabies. Leave them alone!
Sep 25, 2017 kari kaz
Sep 25, 2017 Lynn Miller
Sep 25, 2017 Marti Worth
Sep 25, 2017 Alessandro Biagioli
Sep 25, 2017 Ann Sikes
Sep 25, 2017 bernard elias
Sep 25, 2017 Sasha Ramdihol
Sep 25, 2017 Lou Iannucci
Sep 24, 2017 sarah weisberg
Sep 24, 2017 Maryanne Degoede That is some sick entertainment. Hard to believe that people take kids to see it. They used to have a festive hanging event in every town in the past I guess. Hopefully this will go that way. One more reason never to visit North Carolina. Bizarre folks.
Sep 24, 2017 Melanie Spell
Sep 24, 2017 Deborah Croft
Sep 24, 2017 Alejandra Benito
Sep 24, 2017 Joanne Martinez
Sep 24, 2017 Abigail Conover
Sep 24, 2017 Anne Carlson
Sep 24, 2017 marina danilova
Sep 24, 2017 Bettina Wenk
Sep 24, 2017 Bonnie Svec
Sep 24, 2017 katherine grant
Sep 24, 2017 Paulette Finnegan
Sep 23, 2017 Gerald Ryan Only mutants could come up with the idea of torturing animals for "entertainment"!!! There is no hope for all of us if this is tolerated!
Sep 23, 2017 Lorraine Socorro
Sep 23, 2017 валерия ланцова
Sep 22, 2017 Vincenzo Taffoni
Sep 22, 2017 Paola Moretti
Sep 22, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Sep 22, 2017 Laura Esq. This is simply barbaric and should be considered barbaric in all countries as we know better than to treat animals cruelly for entertainment. Make illegal now.
Sep 22, 2017 Vickie Wilkins
Sep 22, 2017 Gina Lledo Wunderlich
Sep 21, 2017 Maria Santiago
Sep 21, 2017 Andrea Rohr
Sep 21, 2017 Zelia Broyles
Sep 21, 2017 Jameson Sachs
Sep 21, 2017 Julie Novell
Sep 21, 2017 Krystal Burroughs
Sep 20, 2017 Maria Harrington
Sep 20, 2017 Kelly Hahn
Sep 20, 2017 Juan Diego Grzelak
Sep 20, 2017 Joan Heezen
Sep 20, 2017 Renny Wouterse To kill these animals by dropping them iis a cowards act
Sep 20, 2017 Lisa Kauhl
Sep 20, 2017 Kimberly Beebe
Sep 20, 2017 Wendy Horn
Sep 20, 2017 Royanne Liberti
Sep 18, 2017 Rita Kovacsova Stop this cruel nonsense!!!! Animals are living beings and have just as much right to live on this earth as human beings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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