New Year's Eve 'Possum Drop' Organizer Says Animal Will Be Killed Before Event

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Faced with a possible lawsuit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, organizers of the controversial New Year's Eve Possum Drop in Brasstown, North Carolina, have agreed to forgo using a live animal for one of the first times in decades.

But as it turns out, the alternative might be even more brutal.

Event organizer Clay Logan told The Dodo that the opossum will be killed ahead of time in order to avoid the use of a live animal during the event.

The Possum Drop typically involves hoisting a clear plastic container with a live, wild-caught opossum in front of thousands of New Year's Eve spectators. During the countdown to midnight, the animal is lowered down by rope (akin to the ball drop in New York's Time Square), after which he is released back into the wild.

Animal activists have called the event a "public display of the mistreatment of an animal, plain and simple," noting that opossums are shy animals and that the rigors of public display could prove fatal.

In recent years, PETA has filed legal challenges to stop the event, with some short-term success. In 2012, a judge ruled in PETA's favor, preventing Logan from obtaining the wildlife capture permit required. A few months later, though, lawmakers usurped that ruling by passing a new law allowing the event to continue in 2013.

So, as before, this year PETA filed a motion challenging the event, which Possum Drop organizers evidently caught wind of. Instead of contesting the motion, Logan preemptively agreed to not use a live opossum this year.

PETA called it a "victory" - likely not knowing what Logan had in mind as an alternative.

"I think we're going to use the main ingredient in possum stew," Logan told The Dodo by phone. He said that an animal would be hunted specifically for this purpose. "It's not like you need to buy a can of it in the store."

And, in a bitter twist of irony, he'd be well within his rights to kill as many opossums as he pleases: According to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, there's no bag limit on the number of opossums that can be harvested during small game season.

Update 1/2/2015: As FOX 5 Atlanta reports, Clay Logan appears to have in fact used possum stew as a replacement for a live opossum during Brasstown's New Year's Eve Possum Drop event. The time or manner in which the opossum was killed has not been disclosed.

(Twitter/Paul Gourley)

PETA's director of litigation, Martina Bernstein, called the use of possum stew an "odd decision" considering Logan's claims to have an appreciation for opossums.

"Surely, Brasstown can throw a great party without harming animals," Bernstein told The Dodo.