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.”:


(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. What we ate as guests at a seafood restaurant still remains a mystery? ~Id
    I went on photo Safari to E.Afica and had the absolute joy of staying in some of the Aga Khans Lodges….they were amazing places….still, it was difficult to go out in the morning to take pictures of the wildlife and then come back to the lodge and find Kongoni on the buffet….

  2. Both frog legs and snails are tasty, in France. Haven’t had them over there.

    Chitlins soup will do, as sobering up food after the Mexican bars close.

  3. Woosty,

    Sounds like Vietnamese-Americans, once immigrants.
    Do you know?

    In a open air market/restaurant in Taipei, I saw a gentleman order freshly killed snake gall in an alcohol cocktail. I abstained.

    What we ate as guests at a seafood restaurant still remains a mystery? Neither fish, lobster, nor octupus.

  4. I’ve had both opossum and raccoon. They are survival food. Neither are exactly a fine dining experience no matter how you dress them up. Snake, on the other hand, isn’t so bad and the comparisons to chicken on that particular meat are not too far off base. Same with frog.

  5. damn that was a clean shot from standing right on top of him (whilst probably stepping on his little tail….)….I don’t eat Possum, they are incredibly gamey, greasy, and if foraged in towns and cities are full of human offal…. not tasty…that is why the iron pot and beaucoup spices….
    don’tcha think there would be Possum farms run by starving unsuccessfull farmers if they were actually really tasty?

  6. Who do we pity the most? Existence farmers and the remaining non-farm residents in what was once a somewhat thriving farm ares—-OR—-the oppusum who is doing quite well due to climate warming and the decline in the numbers of humans in their habitats?

    I pick humans. Are frog races forbidden too?

    Rationalization is changing America as you may have noticed. Disappeared: Small farms, Mom and Pop stores, Wholesale distributors, the corner grocery with a full line, non-chaine anything.

    Welcome to uniformity.

    The festival seems to bring in some tourist dollars, creates a sense of togetherness, and a lot of laughs, so what’s the harm.

    Maybe they should have one killed and mounted for use instead, hide it ahead of time in the plastic and cover it in a red cover to draw off at the expected hour. Sell possum dolls, both wood and soft ones. We do here with the Dala horses to great profit.
    Spice the dolls up with a good color scheme, as rat gray is not too cool.

  7. Well, Gene, it’s not a “better idea”, but it is legal under state law, apparently.

  8. Here is what I suggest for all of NC on New Years Eve. Get a cat carrier box and print the name: Judge Morrison on the side in big letters. Fill it with tasty items that only a possum out on a trot would like. Hoist it up a tree and place it on a branch right near the trunk.
    Dribble some honey down the tree trunk. Have a rope on the door to spring shut when Fred goes in for a bite to eat and a nap. At midnight on The
    Eve lower Fred down to the ground to video recording and celebration. Post
    Fred and the culprit, the Judge, on the internet. Let
    Fred go when he lands.

  9. An acquaintance of mine had a possum enter his home and take up residence in a box near his wood stove. She had her litter (if that’s what they call a bunch baby possums) and stayed there while raising them. I haven’t seen him in quite awhile so I don’t know if he still has a possum tenant.

  10. DoubleYouX2
    1, November 15, 2012 at 11:15 am
    First of all @Woosty’s still a Cat: you clearly have never gone to the event or know any true facts about it, because your offensive and derogatory remarks regarding the spectators are false…especially considering Mr. Clay Loga, an upstanding gentleman, explicitly states that alcohol is not permitted at all whatsoever at the event as it is intended to be a family-friendly affair.
    Dear DoubleYouX2, (counter cross curse ad infinitum…..) pink light, protection spell, moonshine and whiskey blah blah blah……

    No, I have never been to your event. Yes, I would rather see that you continue as you are than to have to do what that Judge apparently ordered: ie, kill the possum. I would hope, that if this judgement cannot be reversed by reasonable argument in light of the fact that it impinges on animal cruelty laws, that your town adopt a different approach alltogether and utilize my link,

    There is a huge difference between accidently killing an animal on the road and doing what your town is doing, even if only in fun or for profit. Why don’t you invite a possum educator to your next hoe-down with some real live education animals and ‘drop’ an effigy instead.. kids LOVE could call it the ‘Cruelty’ drop and whilst lifting a new understanding and enlightenment into your family friendly community, you could agree to teach that cruelty is absolutely droppable….

  11. First of all @Woosty’s still a Cat: you clearly have never gone to the event or know any true facts about it, because your offensive and derogatory remarks regarding the spectators are false…especially considering Mr. Clay Loga, an upstanding gentleman, explicitly states that alcohol is not permitted at all whatsoever at the event as it is intended to be a family-friendly affair.

    Second, to all of you. Please visit the offical PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) facebook page to read my open letter to them regarding their efforts to end the Possum Drop, and other comments.

    Here is my letter:

    I think you should all be extremely ashamed of yourselves for what you’ve done to the small village of Brasstown, North Carolina. I think most people are in agreement that true cruelty to animals is unacceptable, but in this instance your organization has simply gone too far, and done far more damage than the self-righteous good you believe you’ve accomplished. A large percentage of the Brasstown/Murphy area population of Western North Carolina practices animal husbandry, many times as part of a very long family tradition. These aren’t large, cruel commercial farms yet small establishments owned by responsible environmental stewards of the land that respect and treat their animals humanely throughout their lives. This way of life, and choosing increased animal welfare and environmental responsibility is not an easy one. It is truly hard for these farmers to make a living. Furthermore, as an extremely impoverished area in general, non-farming residents are many times found to fall below the poverty line. Regardless of your views on livestock, you have likely just spent thousands in legal fees and labor as part of a petty crusade to stop a harmless annual New Year’s Eve celebration, the “Possum Drop.” This decades-long event has come to draw around 3,000 spectators, which is almost double the whole permanent population of Murphy, the largest nearby town. These tourists and citizens of the surrounding areas bring much-needed revenue to the area. The fact that a live possum is kept in a breathable, plexiglass container with a luxurious cushion for about an hour, and then lowered at the pace of cold molasses to ring in the New Year, only to be released back into the wild unharmed should in no way whatsoever be a concern to anyone. You may as well form a brigade on every highway and street corner to protest and harass any driver that mistakenly, to no fault of their own, runs over one of these majestic, beautiful, and revered creatures. Plus, statistically speaking more than one of your members is a murderer, maybe even a SERIAL KILLER due to repeat opposucides on the black top. In the economy we continue to experience, small rural towns are in more of a dire situation than ever, and you have just contributed to their demise. The thousands you’ve spent to stop such a benign non-issue event could have been donated to a local food bank for the poor, to rural education programs, or any number of charitable causes to support what SHOULD be your favorite species of animal, Homo sapiens, commonly known as humans-maybe you’ve heard of them? How many of you have ever stepped foot into a Southern Appalachian forest at night and come across a possum? Did you stop and wonder at its beauty and kindness in awe? Most likely not, because it probably made a blood-curdling hiss at you with it’s large beady eyes and scaly, hairless naked tail. It is indeed wrong to treat animals poorly (which is not the case at the Possum Drop anyhow), but it is even more wrong to act to the severe detriment of your fellow human being. In many circumstances what you have done could very well be considered a case of tort against the township of Brasstown, NC making your organization liable for damages against the village and its people. Since your organization prides itself on reporting on and protesting the transparency, or lack thereof, of various animal-related industries, I would be extremely interested to know the exact goal of your group’s actions in Brasstown, and exactly how much was spent on the case including labor and legal fees. I look forward to your response.

  12. I would walk my 2 dogs[Britanny and Golden] in the woods. Of course they would chase and sometimes catch critters. They never got close to a deer. They did get a possum once. I called them off as they tag teamed the poor critter. The possum went limp almost immediately, but it did bite, Wootsy. I separated the kill fest and we walked ~30 minutes. On the way back, I was hoping the possum had just been playing dead but he was still there. C’est la vie.

  13. Why would anyone in NC go out into the woods to get a possum when they are so plentiful in the towns? It would be like going out to look for a wild dog.

  14. Stupid tradition but we have lots of them. The only harm to the poor animal is that he’s probably scared half to death. Since they are doing nothing but being silly why not use a stuffed toy?

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