Repeal North Carolina’s ‘Be Cruel To Opossums’ Law

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End State-Sanctioned Opossum Abuse in North Carolina

Several years ago, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a statute that allows opossums to be abused for five days surrounding the New Year, all for the purpose of entertainment at a New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop.” A majority of General Assembly members approved House Bill 574 (2015) without granting the public the right to comment on it.

North Carolina General Statute § 113-291.13 Application of wildlife laws to opossums reads, “No State or local statutes, rules, regulations, or ordinances related to the capture, captivity, treatment, or release of wildlife shall apply to the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) between the dates of December 29 of each year and January 2 of each subsequent year.”

The statute goes beyond allowing “possum drops” in the state; it allows anyone in North Carolina to legally abuse opossums. Gaining increasing national attention, the statute is an embarrassment to its residents and jeopardizes the state’s tourism industry.

The entertainment of a few hundred people for a couple of hours is inadequate justification for stripping the benign and beneficial opossum of all protections afforded by state and local laws that have been in place for decades. The potential for cruel treatment of opossums is limitless and unethical. North Carolina must repeal the statute.

Millie, the opossum used in the 2018 Andrews, NC “drop,” was taken from her home in the wild. During her capture, she suffered a serious leg injury that became so infected, it could be smelled from a distance during the New Year’s Eve event. Millie dangled in a plexiglass box above a noisy crowd, band and fireworks. This stress is enough to cause serious illnesses among shy, gentle animals such as opossums. For a few hours of entertainment, Millie was tormented and eventually had to have her leg amputated. The disability is so severe that she can never go home. This can never happen again.

We, the undersigned, call on the otherwise intelligent and compassionate North Carolina General Assembly members to sponsor a bill in the 2019 Session to repeal N.C.G.S. § 113-291.13 (2015).


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