PETA claims new Possum Drop law illegal

Posted July 17, 2014

A possum is lowered in a plastic box as part of the New Year's Eve Possum Drop in Brasstown, N.C.

— Animal rights advocates maintain that legislators improperly granted a regulatory loophole to a Clay County business last month to allow it to conduct its annual Possum Drop on New Year's Eve.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several Wake County residents filed suit Thursday against the state to void House Bill 1131, which exempts Clay County from any state wildlife regulations regarding "the capture, captivity, treatment, or release" of possums for one week each year – Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.

Clay Logan, a convenience store owner in the mountain community of Brasstown has created a New Year's Eve tradition for the town similar to the lowering of the crystal ball in New York's Time Square and the giant acorn in downtown Raleigh. The Possum Drop involves lowering an opossum in a Plexiglas box during the countdown to the new year.

PETA has repeatedly challenged the event, calling it cruel treatment of the nocturnal marsupial.

A judge two years ago ruled that the state Wildlife Resources Commission didn't have the authority to grant a permit for the event, prompting lawmakers last year to pass the so-called "Possum Right to Work Act" that allows the commission to issue a permit for the Possum Drop as long as Logan met certain requirements for trapping an opossum and keeping it in captivity.

PETA alleges in its latest lawsuit that Logan left an opossum that appeared at – but wasn't dropped – the Dec. 31, 2013, event unprotected in freezing weather and didn't provide proper veterinary care for the animal, both of which violated his captivity license.

Shortly after the group sought to have Logan's license revoked, Rep. Roger West, the Republican who represents Clay County, introduced House Bill 1131, according to the lawsuit. The bill was introduced May 20 and passed the House and the Senate within two weeks.

"In a display of utter irrationality, the General Assembly thus declared that the Possum Right to Work Act (among other laws) shall not apply to the Opossum Drop – even though that legislation was enacted one year earlier specifically in order to apply to the Opossum Drop," the suit states. "No new law was necessary to allow the Opossum Drop to proceed in a lawful manner."

The new legislation "creates a zone of lawlessness" in Clay County for the week after Christmas, the suit states, because the Wildlife Resources Commission won't be able to enforce dozens of regulations, from allowing people to hunt on private land without permission to using poison or steel-jaw traps to capture animals.

The suit alleges that the law also is unconstitutional because it grants "preferential exemptions from punishment and conveys exclusive privileges" to Logan for which someone living outside Clay County is ineligible.

By making House Bill 1131 retroactive to Dec. 30, 2013, lawmakers also immunized Logan from any punishment for the alleged violations of his captivity license last New Year's Eve, according to the lawsuit.

"Rewarding Logan for his demonstrated contempt for the law by immunizing him from the law, and to retroactively relieve him from the consequences of his false assurances to (the Wildlife Resources Commission) that he would conduct the Opossum Drop in a lawful manner, serves no legitimate State purpose," the suit states.


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  • Shawn Kennedy Jul 19, 2014
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    I cant believe that peta is still trying to stop good clean fun.There are thousands of other good and serious things they could do to actually help people. I suggest go check out the Raleigh or Durham rescue missions they could use some help, or perhaps the Dukes childerns hospital or the many other worth while causes that are available to help people in true need.Instead you waste time man hours and money trying to force Your Beliefs on innocent people who are having a good time bringing in the new year.Everthing is a debate and drama with you people , a law suit or grevence. Give it a rest you and your pitiful organization disgust people who try to and do actually help people and animals without your extremists views you think the rest of us should have. Get Real Get a Job and go help someone who needs it and brighten someones day in a positive manner.

  • disgusted2010 Jul 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Doubt it.

  • Come On_Seriously Jul 18, 2014

    I bet if someone crammed a cat into the same box and did the same thing, a bunch of these who-cares-about-a-possum folks would be up in arms.

  • Ty Shrake Jul 18, 2014
    user avatar

    About 90% of all cats and dogs PETA receives into it's care are killed by PETA within 24 hours, never to be adopted. This includes perfectly healthy animals.


  • Come On_Seriously Jul 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It is colloquially called 'playing possum,' but they're not just 'playing.' Their body INvoluntarily shuts nearly down so that they appear dead. Their breathing and heart rate go way down- something they can't do if they're just pretending. This is a last-ditch reaction to a danger that they can't escape from. To their reasoning, they are as good as dead- a pretty stressful position.

    The reaction is not at all like that of a turtle drawing up in its shell for protection or a bird luring predators from young. Opossums don't hang in trees from their tails either...

    Interesting- those who seem to know some biology are adamant that the opossum is dangerously stressed. Those who demonstrate a lack of biological understanding feel that the opossum will be just fine- because they apply human standards. Take a vertebrate biology class, then let's talk.

  • BeKind Jul 18, 2014

    It's called "playing possum", and they do it to pretend they are dead so they will be left alone. Once they are alone, they jump up and run off. Turtles also draw up in their shells. Some birds also play they are injured to deter predators from the nest of their little ones. I don't believe theses possums are harmed in any way.

  • Thomas Williams Jul 18, 2014
    user avatar

    With all that is going on in this world it is amazing to me what some people make a big deal out of.

  • KnowsItAll Jul 18, 2014

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    "involuntary comatose-like state induced by extreme fear"

    uh...that sounds like, um...science or something. REJECT

  • Fanny Chmelar Jul 18, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    They act like that when they are stressed out. It's a defensive reaction because they think they're about to be attacked and killed.

    Science isn't malarkey.

  • red87mr2 Jul 18, 2014

    Possum are ran over daily with cars. Well fed in a box with air holes isn't that bad off. Tell PETA to stop wasting my tax dollars trying to press their rules and opinions on everyone. Whats next, outlaw fishing?