Changes are coming to this year’s ‘Possum Drop’ to be held on New Year’s Eve in North Carolina. According to Monday’s Washington Times, live opossums will not be used for this year’s event.
For 21 years, the event has been held in the small North Carolina town of Brasstown. And for years, animal advocates have been fighting the abuse the opossum is subject to. Thanks in part to online petitions and social media, word of the event has been spreading, gaining the attention of animal advocates both local and from around the world. A Facebook page entitled ‘Stop the Live Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC’ was set up to help stop this cruel practice.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also stepped in, filing an emergency motion to prevent the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from issuing a license to Clay Logan, a convenience store owner who exhibits the live opossum at the Opossum Drop. According to PETA, the commission said Logan does not intend to apply for a license this year, so will not use a live opossum at this year’s event.
During the Opossum Drop, PETA says a live wild opossum is first trapped, then encased in a Plexiglas box and suspended for hours above a large rowdy crowd. The opossum is then “dropped” (lowered) about 40 feet in imitation of the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Although the opossum is then released, the ordeal is terrifying for the animal. Sights and sounds include fireworks, musket fire, loud music and crowds, and blinding lights.
PETA also reports that numerous veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators, and other experts are opposed to using live opossums. They note that the lights, noise and crowd can harm an opossum’s nerves and health. Animals can even die from ‘capture myopathy,’ physical reactions to stress or trauma.
While the news may be good that no live opossum will be present at this year’s event, there are no laws protecting the animals from being suspended while in a tinsel-covered plastic box at next year’s Possum Drop. A petition entitled ‘Stop the NC Possum Drop!’ which received more than 26,000 signatures and targets the North Carolina Senate, includes this update: “A judge struck down the law that would exempt this town from animal cruelty laws. Now Clay Logan must obtain a state wildlife captivity license to lower the opossum in 2015. He told the LA Times he is unsure if he will seek one. Please SIGN AND SHARE this petition asking Logan not to seek a permit and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission not to issue one!”
Stop the Live Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC notes on their Facebook page, “To our supporters thank you and we are winning this… we will continue to stand up and fight animal exploitation.”