N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission drops appeal of opossum-drop ruling

ablythe@newsobserver.comFebruary 1, 2013 


Brasstown is known as the Possum Capital of the South, and at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, the city will hosts its annual Possum Drop in which a live possum in a Plexiglas cage will be lowered to celebrate the coming of the New Year. The possum is freed after the event. (Erik S. Lesser/The New York Times)


— The state Wildlife Resources Commission has dropped its appeal of a ruling that put a halt to Brasstown’s live opossum drop.

For years, Clay Logan and others who gathered at Clay’s Corner in the western North Carolina town included a live opossum in their New Year’s Eve celebration.

The wild animal would be suspended above the crowd in a clear box for hours. As midnight approached, the box was lowered and the opossum was released into the wild.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals challenged the practice.

North Carolina law prohibits possession of live wildlife without a permit. Logan had obtained one from the state Wildlife Resources Commission, saying he could display the wild animal.

But a state administrative law judge ruled late last year that the commission had no authority to regulate the display of wild animals.

On Thursday, the commission withdrew its appeal of that decision and plans to let the ruling stand.

PETA members lauded the step.

“In recognizing that captive wildlife species shouldn’t be needlessly harassed, North Carolina has taken a welcome step forward,” Delcianna Winders, PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, said in a statement.

Despite the legal wrangling, Logan and others gathered at Clay’s Corner on New Year’s Eve and brought in 2013 with a new twist on the old tradition.

At the stroke of midnight, Logan lowered an opaque padlocked box covered with photos of opossums. He never revealed what was inside.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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