AnimalRehab

Orphaned baby opossums are cared for at the Southside Virginia Wildlife Center in Danville prior to being released. 

Some people, and probably all opossums, want a North Carolina law changed.

The law, which passed in the North Carolina General Assembly in 2015, made it so people can do whatever they want to opossums for five days out of the year.

"No state or local statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances related to the capture, captivity, treatment or release of wildlife shall apply to the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) between the dates of December 29 of each year and January 2 of each subsequent year," the law says.

But a group wants the marsupials to be protected year-round.

Animal Help Now started a petition on Change.org in February to get the General Assembly to repeal the law. The petition has almost 160,000 signatures.

The petition says that the law was passed for "Possum Drops" in North Carolina.

The group is referring to events such as a New Year's tradition in a western North Carolina town in which an opossum was suspended in a transparent box and then slowly lowered to the ground to ring in the new year.

However, after 24 years and many marsupials, the Brasstown "Possum Drop" dropped its last opossum in 2018, event organizers told The News & Observer last year.

Event organizers said they do "absolutely nothing to harm" the opossum, according to The News & Observer, but the event was a "hard job to do, and it's time to move on."

Although opossums no longer will be dropped from the sky in Brasstown, there's nothing to stop them from being dropped elsewhere and they're still not protected for five days out of the year.

"The statute goes beyond allowing 'possum drops' in the state; it allows anyone in North Carolina to legally abuse opossums," the petition says.

The petition has closed, but Animal Help Now says it is continuing "legislative efforts."

"We are exploring all options to ensure no live opossums are used in 'Opossum Drop' events in North Carolina over the New Year holiday," the petition says. "Stay tuned!"

(c)2019 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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