Under the Dome

PETA sues over newest Possum Drop bill

The cat-and-mouse game between the animal welfare group PETA and backers of the New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop” event in Brasstown continues.

One day after Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law legislation allowing the centerpiece of the celebration — lowering a live possum in a transparent plastic box at midnight — PETA on Friday sued again to stop it.

A tangle of legal proceedings has kept People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and attorneys for North Carolina busy for several years now. Last year, the General Assembly tried to stay a step ahead of the organization by suspending wildlife laws affecting opossums only in Clay County, where the event is held, between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2. PETA argued that created a “zone of lawlessness,” and a Superior Court judge blocked it.

To get around that, legislators this year passed House Bill 574, which expanded statewide the prohibition on wildlife rules or regulations applying to opossums.

PETA quickly responded with another lawsuit, filed in Wake County, seeking an injunction against the new law for being vague. PETA released a statement saying it would not only be abusive to opossums, but could make it legal to interfere with hunters and free them from laboratories.

PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr said the group will keep fighting for possums to be left alone, “and for the right of North Carolina citizens to have comprehensible and clearly enforceable laws, not the vague nonsense produced by the state legislature.”

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