Raleigh, N.C. — As expected, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sued to stop a new law meant to allow a general store owner in western North Carolina from dropping – or at least slowly lowering to the ground – a possum on New Year's Eve.
Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday signed into a law a bill that would exempt possums from state and local wildlife laws for a five-day period around Jan. 1. It is the latest in a series of efforts dealing with possums reaching back to 2012. That's when a state court judge ruled that Clay Logan, the proprietor of Clay's Corner in Brasstown, could no longer capture a possum, put it in a plastic box and lower it like the crystal ball in New York's Times Square or the acorn in downtown Raleigh as a way of ringing in the new year.
"Legalizing the cruel Opossum Drop by legalizing all conduct with opossums is both a dramatic overreach and an embarrassing example of political cronyism," PETA lawyer Jeffrey Kerr said in a statement. "PETA will continue to fight for the right of gentle opossums to be left in peace."
Kerr described the possum bill as "vague nonsense produced by the state legislature."
PETA has argued in the past that the loud cheers, fireworks and other noise likely traumatize the possum. Backers of the drop say the animal is well cared for during its captivity and released shortly after its service to the festivities.
In 2014, PETA argued that a similar law that applied just to Clay County created a "zone of lawlessness" for possums, and a state court agreed it likely was not constitutional.
PETA's latest lawsuit, filed in Wake County on Friday, seeks an injunction against the law for being overly vague.