Brasstown, North Carolina is a small little town in the far southwestern corner of the state. It is home to the John C. Campbell Folk School where they teach everything from woodworking to quilting to story-telling.
The Cherokee County town is also home to a quaint New Year’s Eve tradition called the Possum Drop. Held at Clay’s Corner, the Possum Drop actually involves the lowering -not dropping -of a live possum (oppossum, if you are a stickler for spelling) starting around 10pm. It is Brasstown’s answer to the dropping of the ball in Times Square. This event is unique enough to have caught the eye of CBS’s Bill Geist who did a story on it for CBS Sunday Morning.
Unfortunately, it has also caught the attention of the busybodies at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They are now taking the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to court for issuing a permit to the organizer of the Possum Drop, Clay Logan.
PETA attorney Martina Bernstein said possums are timid animals and can actually die from the stress. She likened the New Year’s Eve event to torture for the animal.
“It is something you wouldn’t do to your own dog or cat – have them hoisted up on a Plexiglas contraption for several hours with fireworks going off you know swinging in in the cold air,” Bernstein said.
She argued that the state permit for the event was improperly issued because North Carolina law doesn’t allow wild animals to be kept captive unless it’s for rehabilitation – and that requires a captive animal permit.
“There are very strict rules for that. It’s not a free-for-all,” she said. “But apparently the agency believes, if you don’t fit into these permits, we’re just going to make up something.”
Norman Young, the assistant attorney general representing the Wildlife Resources Commission, said the permit was legal. New Year’s Eve falls during possum season in the state, so Logan’s hunting license allows him to trap one for the drop, he said.
“(This is) an event that does not show any particular harm to the opossum and I might add doesn’t meet the elements of the animal cruelty statute,” Young said.
Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. refused the state’s motion for the case to be dismissed which means that the case will live for another month.
The last time that PETA threatened a suit over this Mr. Logan resorted to using a roadkill ‘possum which didn’t thrill the New Year’s Eve revelers. If PETA does win, the state’s assistant attorney general says it would be entirely legal for Mr. Logan to kill a oppossum, keep it in his freezer, and then put the frozen carcass in the plexiglass box on New Year’s Eve.
My suggestion to PETA and one that I think at least the men in the Brasstown community would appreciate is for them to volunteer one of their brainless – but attractive – starlet backers to be put in the box and lowered on New Year’s Eve. Naked, of course, since wearing any fur would be against their principles which we couldn’t have.