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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

Jul 20, 2018 Tina Petrunka
Jul 20, 2018 karen reedy
Jul 19, 2018 Candace Zachary
Jul 19, 2018 Susan Starkie
Jul 19, 2018 L R
Jul 19, 2018 Octavia Salerno
Jul 19, 2018 Summer Patterson
Jul 19, 2018 Jennifer HOST-SIMON
Jul 18, 2018 Maritza Zepeda
Jul 18, 2018 Sarah Hugo
Jul 18, 2018 jmeterFirstName754164865605486 jmetetlastName50167572921699 jmeterComment4748
Jul 18, 2018 jmeterFirstName540733123047795 jmetetlastName682257587277774 jmeterComment7807
Jul 18, 2018 Don B. Meriwether
Jul 18, 2018 shirley cooksley
Jul 18, 2018 Holly Stoneback
Jul 18, 2018 Susan Vorwald using animals in this manner to promote a commercial event is cruel & so wrong on so many levels. family event?? teaches children that life is cheap.
Jul 18, 2018 Laurent Belotti
Jul 17, 2018 Shirley Tomasello
Jul 17, 2018 Mariana Galán
Jul 17, 2018 Jennifer Rathburn
Jul 17, 2018 Sahsha States
Jul 17, 2018 Peter Fell
Jul 17, 2018 Joyce Frievalt This is horrible!!
Jul 17, 2018 Mary O'Neil
Jul 17, 2018 Karen Holt The poor creatures. Don't be heartless. This needs to stop. There is too much violence in this world without you promoting more.
Jul 17, 2018 Lauren Berger
Jul 17, 2018 jacqueline mitchell Such backward people!
Jul 17, 2018 Mary Lou Salatino
Jul 17, 2018 Barbara Berube
Jul 17, 2018 Deborah Salivar-Keene
Jul 17, 2018 Stéphanie MONCADE
Jul 17, 2018 Bernie Doherty People are pure EVIL FREAK'S
Jul 17, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Jul 17, 2018 Melissa Gillett
Jul 17, 2018 Ann Ohme
Jul 17, 2018 Oliver McGinnis Just because an animal is not conventionally cute does not mean it deserves to be treated like this.
Jul 17, 2018 Natasha Brenner
Jul 17, 2018 Candace Funk
Jul 17, 2018 Laura McGhie Disgusting and evil. Where do these ideas come from??!! A group of sociopaths. Please cease these horrible events NOW.
Jul 17, 2018 Margaret Hurley
Jul 17, 2018 Michelle Sibinovic
Jul 16, 2018 M T No more animal abuse!
Jul 16, 2018 Katherine Tuttle
Jul 15, 2018 FIONA whittaker how can such cruelty be condoned by law ???
Jul 15, 2018 Cindy Reed
Jul 11, 2018 Maria Angeles Leorza Arechavaleta
Jul 5, 2018 Etelvina D. Serrano Martínez
Jul 1, 2018 Jacklyn Yancy
Jun 30, 2018 Les Waters

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