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Proposed Legislation Seeks to Reinstate Cruel Stunt and
Endanger All North Carolina Wildlife
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2013
Contact: David Perle 202-483-7382
Raleigh, N.C. -- Today, TV icon and lifelong Republican Bob Barker
sent a letter to members of the North Carolina Standing Committee on Rules and
Operation of the Senate urging them to reject Senate Bill 60, otherwise known
by the offensive title "The Opossum Right-to-Work Act." The
Republican-led effort is a clear attempt to circumvent a judge's recent ruling
that trapping a wild opossum using dogs, warehousing the frightened animal for
days or weeks, and then lowering the opossum in a box during a loud
ruckus—including gunfire and fireworks—at the annual New Year's Eve celebration
in Brasstown violated the state's wildlife captivity statue. The bill, which
also proposes to strip certain legal protections for other wildlife, is
sponsored by North Carolina state Rep. Roger West, who also sponsors the
annual Possum Drop.
"West's attempt to carve out a loophole for this event
is absurd, since no rational person could conclude that it is even remotely
humane," writes Barker. "North Carolina's citizens … don't want to
see the legislature move the state backwards by attempting to create loopholes
for animal abuse."
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
Bob Barker's letter to the North Carolina Standing
Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate follows.
February 14, 2013
The Honorable Tom ApodacaChair, Committee on Rules and
Operations of the SenateNorth Carolina State Senate
Dear Senator Apodaca,
As a lifelong Republican and
one who deeply values our country's natural treasures, I'm writing to express
profound concern over Senate Bill 60, also known by the offensive title
"The Opossum Right-to-Work Act."
While I am sure that this
bill was introduced as a laugh, a moment's reflection will show that it makes a
mockery of the legislative process and epitomizes big-government interference
by seeking to significantly amend a well-established state law and create a legal
loophole to satisfy the petty interests of one man made unhappy by a judge's
rightful ruling. The proposed amendment to the state's captivity-licensing
statute, which, in its original form, is meant to protect native wild
animals, is sponsored by Rep. Roger West, who also sponsors the annual New
Year's Eve "Opossum Drop" at Clay Logan's gas station in Brasstown.
For this cruel event, a wild opossum is trapped using dogs, held in unnatural
surroundings for days or weeks, then placed in a Plexiglas box on New Year's
Eve, hoisted above a stage, and subjected to a terrifying barrage of loud
music, fireworks, and cannon and musket fire. Since the original captivity
statute allows licenses to be issued for activities only in "the interests
of humane treatment of wild animals," such as wildlife rehabilitation,
West's attempt to carve out a loophole for this event is absurd, since no
rational person could conclude that it is even remotely humane.
But the proposed legislation
also presents a serious threat to North Carolina's wildlife that goes far
beyond the scope of the Opossum Drop. It seeks essentially to strip the state's
wild animals of crucial protections and make them vulnerable to a wide array of
cruel practices, including being held indefinitely in captivity, being put on
display to generate profit or publicity for their captors, and being exploited
for any "other purpose." The bill even goes so far as to seek to
exempt many citizens from the state's anti-cruelty law.
West's amendment also
endangers public safety, since the legislation makes no provision at all for
safeguarding residents from the potential threat of disease and other obvious
dangers associated with transporting, keeping, and publicly exhibiting a wild
North Carolina's citizens know
that this type of legislation rightfully belongs to a bygone era, and they
don't want to see the legislature move the state backwards by attempting to
create loopholes for animal abuse. I hope to hear that you will oppose this
bill, and I hope that clear heads will prevail so that this fine state can be
proud of its legislative history.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.