PETA sues over new NC 'Possum Drop' law

07/17/2014 4:15 PM

08/05/2014 6:51 PM

The animal-welfare organization PETA sued in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday asking a judge to stop the state from allowing the New Year’s Eve "Possum Drop" in Clay County and declare as unconstitutional a law enacted this year to allow it.

The lawsuit said the statute violates state and federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process for being vague and selective.

A bill the General Assembly passed and the governor signed sought to clarify a long-running legal fight between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and supporters of the annual Brasstown event in which a possum is lowered in a box at midnight.

The new law allows it between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 every year. That, according to the lawsuit, "creates a zone of lawlessness in Clay County" because it allows anything to happen to the possum.

Among the plaintiffs is an opossum expert, who says the law would seem to allow her to do what she can to prevent a possum’s capture or to rescue a captured one. But the law is vague; she doesn’t know if she’d be prosecuted, according to the suit.

PETA will also be in an administrative law judge’s courtroom in Raleigh on Friday arguing with the state over whether the state Wildlife Resources Commission’s authority to issue licenses for the event the past two years. The state is arguing that action is moot because of the new law.

The new lawsuit was filed because only a superior court judge, not an administrative law judge, can declare that a state law is unconstitutional.

Under the Dome logo

Under the Dome

Under the Dome is your inside source on North Carolina politics and government and has been a regular feature in The N&O since 1934. Check here for the latest on state and federal government, political advocacy and upcoming elections. This blog is maintained by the N&O politics staff.

Join the Discussion

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service