The people of Brasstown, North Carolina have been ordered by Judge Fred Morrison that they need to stop playing possum and just kill wild animals rather than capture and release them as part of their New Year celebrations. The town has a tradition called “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which includes a “possum drop.” The possum is not actually dropped. A possum is caught in the wild and lowered in a plexiglass cage for about ten seconds. It is then released back into the wild. Judge Morrison held essentially kill the possum and then lower it or spray paint a cat to look like a possum. A video of the brief descent is below.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had sued the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which issues the permit for the event. The judge agreed that this was not permitted under state law. They had to kill the possum — not capture and release it. Morrison rued that state law prohibits the use of wild animals for pets or entertainment: “Citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild animals for pets or amusement. Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned for: ‘Give me liberty, or give me death!’”
The Commission has 30 days to appeal the 18-page ruling.
What is interesting is that the state law allows for the importation of such animals for “display.”:
N.C. ADMIN. CODE tit. 2, r. 52B.0212 – IMPORTATION REQUIREMENTS: WILD ANIMALS
(a) A person shall obtain a permit from the State Veterinarian before importing any of the following animals into this State:
(5) Bobcat (includes Lynx and other North and South American felines as cougars, jaguars, etc.);
(8) Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula).
(b) Permits for the importation into this State of any of the animals listed in (a) of this Rule shall be issued only if the animal(s) will be used in a research institute or for public display or organized entertainment as in zoos or circuses.
Does that mean that a Virginia Possum could be imported for this brief “display”?
Here is the entire drop from last New Years:
Source: Daily Mail