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Wildlife Resources Commission Ordered by Court to Pay PETA Nearly $75,000 Over ‘Opossum Drop’ Case

Frivolous Appeal Will Cost Taxpayers as Judge Rules for Animal Protectors

For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Raleigh, N.C. — Superior Court Judge William R. Pittman has granted PETA’s motion to award the group $74,446 in attorneys’ fees as the result of a frivolous appeal filed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) after the November 2012 ruling by Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison of the Office of Administrative Hearings in Wake County that the annual “Opossum Drop” held in Brasstown was illegal and that the WRC had acted unlawfully when it issued a permit for the event. After the WRC appealed the ruling to the North Carolina Superior Court, PETA filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as frivolous.

Two days later, the WRC dropped its appeal and PETA filed a motion to recover its attorneys’ fees. Judge Pittman found that the WRC “acted without substantial justification in pressing its claims” against PETA and ordered the WRC to pay PETA from its operating funds no later than September 1, 2013.

“This decision backs up PETA’s position that the Wildlife Resources Commission issued the permit for this crude and cruel activity illegally in the first place,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “The WRC compounded its unlawful conduct by filing a baseless appeal and sticking taxpayers with the bill.”

In the Opossum Drop, a wild, live opossum was trapped, encased in a Plexiglass box, and suspended above a rowdy crowd for hours before being “dropped” (lowered) about 40 feet in imitation of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York’s Times Square. Judge Morrison’s original ruling was clear and to the point: “WRC has no authority to issue any permit to [Clay] Logan for the unlawful public display of a native wild animal at the Opossum Drop Event.”

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