Local News

Possums once again absent from New Year's Eve event

Posted December 29, 2014

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

— For the second straight year, the annual Possum Drop to ring in the new year in western North Carolina won't feature a live possum.

Clay Logan, a convenience store owner in the mountain community of Brasstown, created the Possum Drop as 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 event, which involves lowering an opossum in a Plexiglas box during the countdown to the new year, has repeatedly been challenged in court by animal rights advocates as cruel treatment of the nocturnal marsupial.

After a recent court ruling required Logan to obtain a license from the state Wildlife Resources Commission to use a live possum in Wednesday night's event, he notified a state judge on Dec. 20 that he had no plans to use a live possum in Brasstown's celebration.

"I assure you we revere the opossum in our celebration," Logan wrote to Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. "Our celebration promotes community values that citizens in Clay County and citizens across North Carolina, including members of the State Legislature, hold in highest esteem."

A possum appeared but wasn't dropped at the Dec. 31, 2013, event in Brasstown.

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

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged that Logan violated the license last year and sought to have his license revoked this year.

Rep. Roger West, R-Clay, then introduced legislation exempting 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.

The bill was introduced May 20 and passed the House and the Senate within two weeks.

Super Court Judge Bryan Collins grants PETA a restraining order on Dec. 5 that eliminated the regulatory loophole West's legislation created, requiring Logan to again obtain a permit to use a live possum in this year's Possum Drop.

After receiving Logan's letter, Morrison on Monday dismissed PETA's challenge to Logan's license renewal as moot.

"There's nothing festive about tormenting a timid opossum," PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr said in a statement. "Brasstown can throw a grand party without engaging in cruelty to animals."


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  • John McCray Dec 29, 2014
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    I doubt any of the "mountain folk" up here care to watch a dead opossum being lowered.

  • Apex Voice Dec 29, 2014
    user avatar

    Well, the man said they had no plans to use a live possum. They'll probably lower a dead possum. When will the intelligentsia learn that you can't mess with mountain folk?

  • Domo Tamasi Dec 29, 2014
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    I think we might be wise to focus on all the timid animals we keep locked up in the zoo as well. This is definitely overreach on the part of PETA.

  • tranzorg Dec 29, 2014

    "There's nothing festive about tormenting a timid opossum,"
    I do not know about the opossums in Brastown N.C. but the opossums in Garner N.C. are anything but timid :).

  • justabumer Dec 29, 2014

    OK, now that this is settled it's time to take a look at that Groundhog's Day thing.

  • wayneboyd Dec 29, 2014

    A 'possum is nothing more than a rat on steroids.

  • Rob Creekmore Dec 29, 2014
    user avatar

    The attention paid to this, by both sides, is ridiculous.

  • Keith Hayes Dec 29, 2014
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    God now that the Possum is safe we can move on to saving that Ground Hog from having to predict the weather each year…

  • nclgw Dec 29, 2014

    Thank goodness!!!! Does kinda make you wonder tho' how it is our state legislature got this bill passed for this silly and cruel non-event for Clay County....and yet there are soooo many more things that need to be done for the whole state that would truly make a difference.....

  • Bobby Medlin Dec 29, 2014
    user avatar

    No one cries over all the possums that are clobbered in streets all over this country. The one in the drop will fare a lot better than most.