A North Carolina judge on Monday decided he won’t second-guess state wildlife regulators, who decided to clear a mountain town’s New Year’s Eve celebration that includes the lowering of a captured possum at midnight.
Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour decided against a bid by the animal-welfare organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to block the annual Possum Drop in Brasstown next week. The event held annually for two decades involves enclosing a live possum in a clear plastic box and lowering it gently to the ground much the way New York City marks the holiday with the descent of a mirrored ball.
A PETA lawyer argued the lights, noise and crowd of people can wreck a possum’s nerves and health even though it is later released.
“In her perception, she will be surrounded by predators,” PETA lawyer Martina Bernstein said. “They will be all around her. She will smell them, she will still be able to hear them, she will know that they’re there. And this is not a condition that a wild possum by nature can withstand without significant harm.”
The animal is released after it is lowered to the ground. The animal is not killed and eaten. There are conditions the organizers have to meet to be allowed by the state to capture a live animal for this event.