NC judge rules against New Year's Eve possum drop
Published - Nov 13 2012 12:53PM EST
MARTHA WAGGONER, Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A possum drop that attracts thousands of people to a tiny town in western North Carolina each New Year's Eve may have had its last hurrah after a judge ruled Tuesday that a state agency didn't have the authority to issue a permit for the event.
"Citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild animals for pets or amusement," Judge FredMorrison wrote in his ruling. "Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned for: 'Give me liberty, or give me death!"
The ruling would end a 19-year tradition of suspending a possum in a see-through box covered with holiday tinsel and lowering it to the ground at midnight. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sued the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which issues the permit for the event, saying it's illegal and cruel.
The commission has 30 days to appeal Morrison's decision to Superior Court. A spokesman said the agency will decide whether to appeal after reviewing the 18-page ruling.
Clay Logan, who owns Logan Corner store, manages the event, which attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people annually to the tiny hamlet. The commission "had no authority to issue any permit to Logan for the unlawful public display of a native wild animal" at the drop, Morrison wrote.