Tiny Brasstown, out in far-western N.C., attracts a New Years crowd to its annual possum drop, the lowering at midnight of a live opossum in a transparent box. Acorn-droppers in Raleigh lack standing to say its silly.
PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, has a more substantive objection, one its taken to Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. The event, PETA argues, is not only cruel, it amounts to an illegal holding of wildlife. The state Wildlife Resources Commission, a party to the action because it issues a permit for the event, insists neither is the case.
Since no one defends deliberate cruelty to animals, this really boils down to whether holding the critter captive before the drop and during some noisy festivities, and the lowering itself (after which the possum is released into the wild), are just too much. All things considered, it seems more reasonable to conclude that for the celebrity possum, just as for the Brasstown celebrators, their time in the spotlights amounts to an odd but probably harmless interlude in an otherwise long, dark and cold winter.