NC stuck with PETA’s tab in Possum Drop case

jshaffer@newsobserver.comJuly 30, 2013 

The spectacle of dropping a tinsel-draped marsupial over a New Year’s Eve crowd will take a fresh bite out of North Carolina’s treasury – a possum’s revenge.

The state must pay $74,446 to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – repayment for legal fees in its battle over whether the town of Brasstown could lower a caged opossum 20 feet down to a stage at midnight Dec. 31.

The animal rights group celebrated the ruling from Superior Court Judge William Pittman on Tuesday, even though Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill allowing the Possum Drop to go forward.

“This decision backs up PETA’s position that the Wildlife Resources Commission issued the permit for this crude and cruel activity illegally in the first place,” said Jeffrey Karr, PETA’s general counsel.

In Raleigh last year, Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison ruled with PETA that the Wildlife Resources Commission could not issue a permit for the event – unless the legislature changed the law, Morrison noted, which it did with McCrory’s blessing.

But before legislators stepped in, the state appealed to the Superior Court, asking for a reversal, then quickly dropped its request. In his order Monday, Pittman said the state’s request was “neither rational nor legitimate.”

He awarded four attorneys a combined 201.6 hours work, for the $74,446 total. The state can further appeal.

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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