From fracking to coal ash, the NC General Assembly can't seem to get it together on environmental protections. One thing that will be protected, however, is opossums. Well, not the environment of the opossums or even the opossums themselves, just the ability for citizens of Brasstown, NC to engage in their favorite New Year's Eve tradition: the Possum Drop.
Brasstown, the self-proclaimed opossum capital of the world, in Clay County, NC, has a population of about 240 people. Every New Year's Eve, a celebration is held at which a possum is lowered in a plastic cage at midnight. The NC General Assembly recently passed in both the House and Senate, with bipartisan support, a bill designed to help ensure the survival of this event.
The bill exempts Clay County from state wildlife laws in respect to opossums between December 26th and January 2nd. So, when it comes to opossums between those dates within the borders of Clay County, it appears anything goes.
Republican Representative Roger West, who sponsored the bill and represents Brasstown, said that the, "marsupial community was in support of the bill."
Jeff Kerr, general counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, begs to differ on that point. “Opossums are shy, reclusive animals, and humans are their primary
predators. At the event, they dangle this opossum in a box
above a rowdy crowd of more than 1,000 people and force it to endure a
terrifying mix of screaming, thumping, music and fireworks -- all in the
name of some kind of entertainment,” he told the LA Times.
The National Opossum Society states that these animals, "prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone."
Founder of the opossum drop event, Clay Logan, says, "Rednecks have a lot of fun, and it don't take a lot of money or things
to do. We just do plain old silly, stupid stuff, just Southern things
that we do."
It appears truer words were never spoken.
Perhaps now that annual opossum-shaming is now legally protected, something can be done about solving the problem of the cancer-causing agents found in drinking water outside a Duke Energy coal ash pond in Salisbury.