Playing Possum: Judge Halts New Year’s “Possum Drop” Tradition in North Carolina Town

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:

(1) Skunk;

(2) Fox;

(3) Raccoon;

(4) Ringtail;

(5) Bobcat (includes Lynx and other North and South American felines as cougars, jaguars, etc.);

(6) Coyote;

(7) Marten;

(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

48 thoughts on “Playing Possum: Judge Halts New Year’s “Possum Drop” Tradition in North Carolina Town”

  1. Bron
    1, November 15, 2012 at 9:43 am
    WOOSTY:

    I would imagine a possum cannot understand much of anything and has a limited level of consciousness. They probably forget about the whole experience in a matter of hours or at most a few days.
    —————————————————————————-
    Bron, may I suggest that you consult a wildlife vet or expert before imagining that. http://www.opossum.org/vet.htm

    And as far as the gleefull exhubrance of a crowd of ‘ a bunch of people drinking bud and wearing T-Shirts that said “I brake for deer, beer and a$$”’, well I’m all in (and not in a general sense either….) because beer, t-shirts and a$$ (preferably dancing nekkid ’round a bonfyre) usually means a pretty nifty party and there is glee there even when cruelty (conscious or un…) doesn’t make an entrance….

  2. In fact in order to save possums, I offer myself up as the dropee for their new years festivities.

  3. 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!’”
    ——————————————-
    because to continue would be an afront to the anti-cruelty laws. So in essence this Judge was assisting people to break the spirit of the anti-cruelty law….because to kill for entertainment is apparently not against the law…

  4. WOOSTY:

    I would imagine a possum cannot understand much of anything and has a limited level of consciousness. They probably forget about the whole experience in a matter of hours or at most a few days.

    Are you going to prohibit cars from killing possums? I would guess many possums have near misses with cars and then are killed by them. Not much possum learning going on there.

    If the people were carrying swastikas and torches I would be pretty upset, but a bunch of people drinking bud and wearing T-Shirts that said “I brake for deer, beer and a$$”, I would sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

  5. I can’t imagine any animal (or human not deranged already) comfortable being lowered in a box with loud noises and fireworks. As Woostey points out, they are very shy. Cruel treatment. Put the mayor in the box… or the chair of the celebration.

  6. possum life span is 2-4 years

    I don’t know how much of that time would have to be taken up in recovery from this kind of event or if it’s life would simply be altered most negatively and permanently.
    Aside from that, there is a distinct lack of compassion that is fed in a ‘ritual’ such as this. I call it cruel, you simply probably see it as ‘dispassionate’. But if you cannot see the cruelty in this then you have divorced yourselves from the element that consciously connects you to the experiences of other living things. That is your misfortune, because in truth you cannot disconnect, so by feeding your ability to exercise that which is less than compassionate, you are growing your cruelty. You may finger point if you like, ignorance is always ‘bliss’ so they say, but I am not your ‘fun’ cop. If anyone would find this ‘fun’, they should probably re-examine their source of feeling. And I haven’t the temperment to be a cop.
    Bron when someone grabs you up, puts you in a cage, surrounds you with laughing screaming people all focusing on you in a cage light by spotlights, and does not tell you why you are there you be sure and let me know how much ‘fun’ you are having.

  7. I have a solution for this town. Sneak up on the judge'[s home and steal his garbage can. Put some garbage in it besides all that litter that he had and then hoist the trash can to the top of a tall tree at the site of the Possum Drop. Put some good possum stuff in there the night before the drop. A possum will find his way up there. Close the lid when ya got one. Let her drop at the annoited hour.

  8. W=^..^

    I’ve got to go with Bron on this one vis a vis rarity of the opossum. They’re pretty common, but just very adept at not being seen.

  9. woosty:

    they let it go. I see hundreds of possums all over the road. I dont think abducting a possum every 12 months is going to hurt their population. And the good people dont probe it and put an implant in it.

  10. Mr.Judge probably has more to gain to favour the possum than he realizes….

    Virginia possums are not on that list but ARE North Americas only native marsupials….so they are a rare species in this environment. They are also scavengers in a very good sense…..they clean up garbage and rout out and kill rats and cockroaches and other destructive bugs and snakes. As marsupials they house their babies in a pouch and later carry them on their backs until maturity. They are very shy and nocturnal. They don’t ‘play’ possum, it is not a game. It is a matter of life or death, it is their only defense against intent predators. It is also, IMHO, not under their control but an innate nervous system response. They have hissing and spitting but rare biting response. You really have to want to get bit by a possum…. They do not carry diseases and are the focus of current medical research because they hold the key to curing many things neurological or mediated by the immune system. They are adorable. They have opposable thumbs. They have very short life spans so they cannot ‘afford’ to be taken out of their lifestream and played with for callous caprice or stupid purpose.You can learn about them here: http://www.opossum.org/facts.htm

    It says so much about a society that the only thing it can apparently offer such beneficial creatures is cruelty, abuse, or death.

  11. Well, I went out and talked to Charlie after my last post here and he has agreed to be the possum for the next event. I just have to figure out how to get that big trash container into my car because he does not like to be without his abode for any length of time.

  12. I got one that they can pick up any day of the week. If I lieave the lid of the trash can folded back, the guy gets int there and roots around and often falls asleep. If I did not rouse him and get him out of there he would have been hauled off to the dump months ago. Perhaps he has been and knows his way back. Possums who live in a neighborhood are about as “Wild” as Wild Bill at age 90. This North Carolina Judge probably has one that would get into his trash can if he would leave the lid off. The Court of Appeals needs to consider this. My possum and my neighborhood are situated in North Carolina– possum capital of the world.

  13. “or spray paint a cat to look like a possum.”

    Yeah. Because that’s a better idea than using a possum. 🙄

Comments are closed.