Government Law

State ordered to pay $75K legal-fee award to PETA as it protests ban on New Year possum-drop


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Even though it had been ordered by a North Carolina administrative law judge to stop issuing a temporary permit that allowed a Brasstown business to capture a wild possum and lower the animal, in a clear plastic box, to the ground at midnight on New Year’s Eve, a state agency continued to protest.

And now a Wake County Superior Court judge has ordered the state Wildlife Resources Commission to pay $75,000 in legal fees to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals because of the agency’s continued legal battle he animal rights group. PETA called the agency’s appeal frivolous, and Judge William Pittman last week said the state “acted without substantial justification in pursuing its claims,” according to the Associated Press and the News & Observer.

Soon after filing an appeal, the state agency quickly dismissed it, the newspaper explains. Meanwhile, lawmakers passed, and the governor signed, a bill to allow Brasstown to continue with its annual Possum Drop, by making clear that animal cruelty charges do not apply to such an event. It’s not clear from news coverage exactly how the new law will interact with the previous judicial ban on issuing a possum-drop permit.

“This decision backs up PETA’s position that the Wildlife Resources Commission issued the permit for this crude and cruel activity illegally in the first place,” said Jeffrey Kerr, who serves as PETA’s general counsel. “The WRC compounded its unlawful conduct by filing a baseless appeal and sticking taxpayers with the bill.”

The articles don’t include any comment from the wildlife commission. However, state Sen. Jim Macon, R-Macon, is a supporter of the Possum Drop, which he calls “a good, wholesome event,” the AP reports. The marsupial is released back into the wild afterward.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Halts New Year’s Eve Possum Drop, Cites Patrick Henry”

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