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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

May 27, 2018 LISA MCLEOD
May 27, 2018 Karil Daniels
May 27, 2018 Peyton Townes
May 27, 2018 Iris Rosenstein
May 27, 2018 PJ Chartrand I read and see a lot of painfully ignorant things but torturing small animals is beyond stupid and calling is suitable children terrifyingly ignorant. Just stop the violence!
May 27, 2018 Julia Moore
May 27, 2018 Michelle Stewart
May 27, 2018 Michelle Avery
May 27, 2018 patricia sutter
May 27, 2018 kliontia-kalia konstantinou
May 27, 2018 Sherry Hager
May 27, 2018 Lisa Ritchie
May 27, 2018 irina antoshkina
May 27, 2018 Branden Hostetter
May 27, 2018 Andrea Bassett
May 26, 2018 Mildred Huffmire
May 26, 2018 Kimberly Knickerbocker
May 25, 2018 Diane Puso Cruelty must not be considered entertainment
May 25, 2018 Bernadette Andaloro
May 25, 2018 Traci Farden
May 25, 2018 Kathleen Nagy-DeRosa
May 25, 2018 Sandi Bowen
May 25, 2018 Andreja Stimac
May 25, 2018 Mark Allain
May 25, 2018 Stephanie Ayan
May 25, 2018 Ken Wenzer
May 25, 2018 Jill Banta
May 24, 2018 Velinka Hughes
May 24, 2018 John Enblom
May 24, 2018 (Name not displayed) Stupid and barbaric practice!
May 24, 2018 Donna Kurtz
May 23, 2018 Joan Heezen
May 23, 2018 Linda Scott
May 23, 2018 Annie Krochmalny
May 23, 2018 alina stan
May 22, 2018 (Name not displayed)
May 22, 2018 Gudrun Brändström
May 21, 2018 Aliyah Khan
May 21, 2018 Claire Ford
May 21, 2018 Axa Tolonen
May 21, 2018 Jean-Pierre Lacan
May 21, 2018 Marisa Santonastaso
May 20, 2018 rita pissens
May 20, 2018 Patricia Nielsen
May 20, 2018 Judy Bradley
May 20, 2018 Kiley Barnett
May 20, 2018 alan harper
May 20, 2018 Rhonda Spaulding
May 19, 2018 Sabrina Zilske

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