Under the Dome

Annual opossum bill advances in NC legislature

Brasstown is known as the Possum Capital of the South, and at the stroke of midnight in years past, a live possum in a Plexiglas cage was lowered to celebrate the coming of the New Year.
Brasstown is known as the Possum Capital of the South, and at the stroke of midnight in years past, a live possum in a Plexiglas cage was lowered to celebrate the coming of the New Year. NYT

This year’s version of an opossum bill cleared the Senate on Thursday and will return to the House for final approval.

This is the latest move in the long-running battle between the annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop in the mountain community of Brasstown and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA and the state have been embroiled in a scatter-shot of legal actions for several years over this issue.

Rep. Roger West, a Republican who represents Clay County where the annual event is held, is seeking to strengthen the law by broadening it to cover the entire state. It would suspend wildlife laws from protecting opossums from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2 every year.

Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat from Charlotte, said it would cost the state money and jobs, “because this bill is embarassing.

“You think of North Carolina and what pops into your head is the state that legalized the you-can-do-anything-you-want-to-a-possum-for-five-days bill. ... That’s really strange and it makes you unpopular.”

To which Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville, replied:

“As they say up in the mountains, I guess you could say he ain’t from around these parts.”

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 38-9.

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