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Bob Barker speaks up for possums

Posted February 14, 2013

— Looks like Brasstown's possums have a friend in Hollywood. 

Longtime "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker has sent a letter to Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, asking him not to move forward with House Bill 66, which would allow the town's annual New Year's Eve "Possum Drop" to continue using a live possum. 

The event was started by Clay's Corner proprietor Clay Logan about 20 years ago. It involves lowering a live possum in a Plexiglas box and then releasing the animal. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed suit against the state last year, arguing that the Wildlife Resources Commission didn't have the power under state law to issue a special captivity permit for such an event. 

A proposal to give the commission that authority moved quickly through the House this week, encountering little debate along the way. Its sponsor, Rep. Roger West, R-Cherokee, wouldn't comment on it to reporters.

It's now in the Senate, where Apodaca filed the companion bill, Senate Bill 60, the "Opossum Right-to-Work Act."

In Barker's letter, sent out by PETA, the lifelong Republican calls the bill an abuse of power.

"While I am sure that this bill was introduced as a laugh, a moment's reflection will show that it makes a mockery of the legislative process and epitomizes big-government interference by seeking to significantly amend a well-established state law and create a legal loophole to satisfy the petty interests of one man made unhappy by a judge's rightful ruling," writes Barker.

"For this cruel event, a wild opossum is trapped using dogs, held in unnatural surroundings for days or weeks, then placed in a Plexiglas box on New Year's Eve, hoisted above a stage and subjected to a terrifying barrage of loud music, fireworks and cannon and musket fire," the letter continues. "Since the original captivity statute allows licenses to be issued for activities only in 'the interests of humane treatment of wild animals,' such as wildlife rehabilitation, West's attempt to carve out a loophole for this event is absurd, since no rational person could conclude that it is even remotely humane."

Barker also warns that the loophole carved out by the legislation could endanger more than just possums.

"It seeks essentially to strip the state's wild animals of crucial protections and make them vulnerable to a wide array of cruel practices, including being held indefinitely in captivity, being put on display to generate profit or publicity for their captors and being exploited for any 'other purpose.' The bill even goes so far as to seek to exempt many citizens from the state's anti-cruelty law," he writes. 

In conclusion, Barker urges Apodaca to let the bill die. 

"North Carolina's citizens know that this type of legislation rightfully belongs to a bygone era, and they don't want to see the legislature move the state backwards," he writes. "I hope that clear heads will prevail so that this fine state can be proud of its legislative history."

No word yet on a response from Apodaca or West, who, Barker notes, is a sponsor of the Possum Drop event.

14 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • Six String Feb 15, 3:39 p.m.

    Flow Easy: good comment, you told it like it is. These people are more concerned about personal morals and being sure that no business is ever regulated. Where are all those jobs that were promised?

  • Come On_Seriously Feb 15, 2:44 p.m.

    Sorry shaggingsenior- I'm not saying any of it is ok- most especially not the wasting of time by our legislature. Sorry my sense of humor does not include the GA wasting our tax money on 'humorous' legislation to brighten their 3-day work week.

    How much extra are you willing to spend so that they can spend time debating frivolous and humorous loopholes to existing laws? They each get a $104 per diem when they are in session- needed or not. 170 legislators = $17,680 per day, not to mention the time spent by aides and staff.

    Wouldn't you rather they be doing their serious job of things such as denying medical coverages and benefits, amending the State Constitution to limit rights, adopting an official livermush festival, and getting rid of pesky safety and health regulations?

  • shaggingsenior Feb 15, 2:00 p.m.

    Besides which, the groundhog is not hoisted 20 feet in the air amid fireworks, lights, and explosions. Flow Easy

    So were you there and you know this first hand? You are saying it is ok to keep a groundhog captive 365 days a year in order for it to make an appearance on Groundhog Day. Seems you've lost your sense of humor. I'll see if I can get my legislator to pass a bill that says everyone needs to smile at least once a day.

  • Scubagirl Feb 15, 12:31 p.m.

    This whole thing is crazy!!! PETA needs to have their heads examined, Barker needs to worry about something more worthy and the GOP needs to focus on what will HELP THE COUNTRY....an opossum bill won't!

  • Come On_Seriously Feb 15, 12:05 p.m.

    "I wish everybody would stop criticizing the legislators for having a little light-hearted humor while doing their job." shaggingsenior

    They are not in office to promote light-hearted humor- they are supposed to be serious (at least they claim to be) about fixing real issues and not wasting taxpayer money in 'light-hearted' legislation. They've only been at work for a few weeks this year for 3 days a week, and you consider that a day after day drudgery? Besides which, the groundhog is not hoisted 20 feet in the air amid fireworks, lights, and explosions.

    This is nothing but pandering to one man in one small town who wants the law to twist his way for his celebration- unworthy of the time and money spent discussing it, and a hypocritical waste at best.

  • shaggingsenior Feb 15, 11:26 a.m.

    I wish everybody would stop criticizing the legislators for having a little light-hearted humor while doing their job. How many of you would like to deal with only serious stuff day after day and never have anything to lighten the mood or make you smile. Why is everybody against the use of the "possum" drop, but yet City of Raleigh and state of Pennsylvania can use a live groundhog on February 2nd for Groundhog Day festivities? I suppose the groundhog is not kept in a cage, it just shows up for work at the assigned time?

  • GravyPig Feb 15, 11:03 a.m.

    "What does "Barker" want? The dang opposums are spayed and or nuetered before they do these drops."

    Let me help you, the article is up there ^^^. I think he clearly states what "he" wants in the article.

  • GravyPig Feb 15, 10:58 a.m.

    Thanks Bob. Very well spoken. While I applaud the effort by West to look after his district, he is wasting everybody's time with a bill that is designed to assist one man by providing him a loophole. Apodaca filed the companion bill in the
    Senate, "Opossum Right-to-Work Act." which is even more of an absurdity than the original bill.

    Kudos guys for taking your job seriously and doing your best.

  • Come On_Seriously Feb 15, 10:38 a.m.

    Perhaps the GOP could save some time and combine a few of their current, enormously valuable bills into just one that makes possum teats indecent and requires the current legislative leaders to be dropped off a pole in a plexiglass box amid fireworks and cannon-fire.

  • wral mods blow close my account Feb 15, 9:14 a.m.

    That's the GOP wasting time on bills that won't produce jobs.

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