N.C. New Year's Opossum Drop Ruled Illegal, Victory for PETA

Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012 04:36 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Last December, New Year’s Eve revelers in Times Square counted down the end of the year as a massive 12-foot round crystal ball weighing 11,875 pounds and containing 2,688 Waterford crystals descended. In Brasstown, N.C. revelers celebrated as a captured opossum was lowered 20 feet in a plastic container. But not this year.

On Tuesday, a North Carolina judge refused to grant a permit allowing the event to take place after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit against the state last December. In the suit, PETA argued that the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), lacking permission from the General Assembly, shouldn’t have issued a permit or license for the event, according to ABC affiliate Channel 11 Eyewitness News.

The 21-year-old event was started by a local family and has attracted more than 2,000 spectators in past years, according to Fox News.

“We didn't think too much into it . . . We figured a lot of other animals were already being used, like the groundhog, for other events, and we wanted to start our own tradition,” event organizer Clay Logan, said, according to Fox News.

In his ruling, Judge Fred Morrison wrote “Citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild animals for pets or amusement . . . Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned for: 'Give me liberty, or give me death!'”

According to the News Observer
, the WRC is considering an appeal of the decision after they consult their attorneys.

The PETA victory comes on the heels of several unsuccessful legal attempts by the animal rights nonprofit in other parts of the country.

In 2010, PETA tried unsuccessfully to have Pennsylvania's famous Groundhog Day star, Punxsutawney Phil, replaced with a robot. They argued the event was cruel because the animal was subjected to large screaming crowds and flashing lights.

Earlier this year, PETA accused Sea World of slavery for its ownership of five orcas used in its water shows. A U.S. District Court in San Diego knocked down the suit finding that constitutional protection does not apply to non-humans.

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