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Judge Halts New Year’s Eve Possum Drop, Cites Patrick Henry

Posted Nov 14, 2012 9:29 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A North Carolina judge has halted the traditional New Year’s Eve Possum drop in the town of Brasstown, saying the state didn’t have the authority to issue a permit for the event.

Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. said the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission didn’t have the authority to issue a specially created "temporary possession and release permit” to the business owner who displays a possum in his store that is featured in the event. The Associated Press and the Charlotte Observer have stories on the decision.

"Citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild animals for pets or amusement," Morrison wrote. "Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned for: Give me liberty, or give me death!"

The plan was to place the possum in a see-through box on New Year’s Eve and lower the animal to the ground at midnight, and then to release the critter into the wild after the event. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sued the wildlife commission for issuing the permit.

The commission has the option of appealing Morrison’s decision to the superior court in Wake County.

The business owner, Clay Logan, told AP and the Charlotte Observer he plans to continue the possum drop in some form. “We’ll just abide by what the law says,” he told the Observer, spurring the newspaper to wonder whether a “robot marsupial” would be used as a stand-in.

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