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PETA Files Lawsuit to Stop Opossum Drop

Written by Alisa Mullins | October 30, 2013

Update: Despite the reams of evidence provided by PETA indicating that Brasstown’s Opossum Drop is cruel and potentially lethal, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) has refused to commit to denying a live-animal use permit to the organizer of the event. As a last resort, PETA has filed a lawsuit to force the NCWRC to do its job and stop the torture of an opossum in this year’s Opossum Drop.

Originally posted September 10, 2013.

In an effort to prevent Brasstown, North Carolina, from using a live animal in another New Year’s Eve “Opossum Drop,” PETA is submitting evidence to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), gathered from top opossum experts around North America, showing that the Opossum Drop is cruel and even potentially deadly to animals. The grotesquely misnamed “Opossum Right to Work Act,” which gave the NCWRC more leeway in issuing permits to wildlife bullies, was rammed through the North Carolina legislature last year in a fit of pique after a judge ruled against the NCWRC for illegally issuing a permit to use a live opossum at the Opossum Drop. Even so, the NCWRC still has no authority to issue permits for activities that violate North Carolina law, such as those that constitute cruelty to animals, and using a live opossum at the Opossum Drop does just that.


Leading opossum experts, including five veterinarians with more than 125 years of combined experience in wildlife medicine and leading wildlife rehabilitators and educators who collectively have cared for well over 14,000 opossums, all agree that capturing a wild opossum, holding the animal for several days or weeks, and suspending the animal in a Plexiglas box high in the air as fireworks are set off, muskets are fired, , crowds of people scream, and loud music is played terrifies these shy animals. In fact, according to these experts, the opossums who were subjected to this abuse in the past likely died shortly after their release, probably from predation or “capture myopathy,” a cascading series of catastrophic physical reactions to stress and trauma.

Dr. Brian King, a wildlife veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in treating opossums, concludes that it’s “more than likely these animals met a horrible death” after their release following the Opossum Drop. There is no justification for inflicting such cruelty on any animal for the sake of two hours of public “amusement”—and issuing a permit for such an activity would be tantamount to becoming complicit in the abuse, in violation of North Carolina law.

Dr. Kenneth Jones, the country’s foremost opossum researcher and veterinarian, notes that “tormenting an opossum in the manner of the Opossum Drop is disgusting.” Using a live opossum at the event “is a public display of the mistreatment of an animal, plain and simple, and no government agency should condone such cruelty by issuing an official permit for the activity.”

PETA is asking the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to deny a permit for using a live animal at the Opossum Drop on the grounds that it’s prohibited from authorizing any activity that is illegal or otherwise prohibited under North Carolina law.

In other words, no, opossums don’t have a “right to work.” They have a right to be left alone.

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  • zombellayaya says:

    How completely barbaric! I am horrified that there are people out there who consider this “amusement”!!

  • KW says:

    Please do something for these opossums, as the Opossum Drop was just legalized again. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE help these animals!! They do NOT deserved to be tortured like this. No animal does.

  • Ann says:

    I always believed Americans to be first world and humane. I guess not. sure doesn’t make any sense to torture a wild animal. for what? fun? NOT FUNNY.



  • LLC says:

    First of all, possums don’t play dead, they faint. They have been on this earth longer than almost any other animal. They don’t have the capacity to handle the stress or fight. (I was told by a wildlife officer that because they can’t handle the stress of an attack by another animal, “they faint.” How on earth could one of these gentle animals handle the stress of something this horrible. Every year I pick up dead baby birds or birds that were so frightened from the 4th of July Celebratory fireworks that they jumped out of their nests. Possums are terrified by the 4th of July. We had a possum not too long ago that stayed in our yard. We fed her, let her roam and she never did any damage to any of my flower gardens or the lawn. She went across the street and was in a vacant shed when some people decided to tease her. It scared her so badly I couldn’t find her for 2 days. She was just laying in the shed. I got her to get up and she made it back to our yard where she promptly crawled under a tarp and died. Please get this stopped. While you are at it you could see if you can get the trapping laws changed for possum and raccoon. Raccoon is another very very gentle animal we have that visit our yard and they are about to open a hunting season on them. They only brought $9.00 for a possum pelt last year for trapping. Imagine how many would have to be killed to make any kind of profit.

  • equestriansara48 says:

    I find this absolutely barbaric, The clear naiveity of it all shocks me. How could anybody not think that something like that is cruel and uncivilized? Or they just don’t care, which in that case I would hope somebody who can actually take care of Brasstown would takeover before it’s inahabitants kill all the wildlife in lieu of “fun”. This is clear evidence that North Carolina needs to invest more time and money into their education system so it’s people can choose to make more conscientious and proactive decisions. I think it’s very very sad that people of that caliber are branded commissioners there, Where i come from the commissioner would have never been able to turn a cold shoulder because something this disgusting wouldnt have seen it’s first year. I am still so appalled that something this cruel goes on in a place that’s supposed to be as well developed and civilized as North Carolina. Can you provide me with some links or informationals on facebook and other social media networks about this topic? I would like to spread awareness on this, I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more publicity! I know if someone did that to me it would be hell on earth, nevermind a shy nocturnal marsupial!


    Please stop this grotesque act from happening, why so much cruelty? Please people these kind of acts have to to stop.

  • ramses2009 says:

    I don’t get the whole thing.?? dropping a opossum – letting fireworks go off while it’s suspended in the air?? That is the insane thing I’ve heard yet. Actuallly, it’s really fu$king stupid. Inhumane.

  • Dawn says:

    I’m so glad you’re filing this lawsuit. Thanks for helping this poor animal who is so sweet yet always the victim of bullying and violence. I’m so grateful that you are fighting the good fight on their behalf.

  • Marie Xuereb says:

    Using a live opossum at the event “is a public display of the mistreatment of an animal, plain and simple, and no government agency should condone such cruelty by issuing an official permit for the activity

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