The organizer of the annual Possum Drop in the North Carolina mountains has been given a permit by a state agency to lower a live possum in a clear box as part of his New Year's Eve celebrations.
Clay Logan plans to gently lower in animal in the box at the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year as part of his annual Possum Drop celebration at his Brasstown store. He started his tradition two decades ago.
The Wildlife Resources Commission granted a permit to Logan on Friday to capture a possum. Logan said the animal is treated well, then released after the event.
But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals disagree and have been fighting Logan for years. In 2012, a judge refused to let the state issue a permit, and Logan dropped a box covered with pictures of possums, refusing to say what was inside.
PETA said its lawyers will be back at the courthouse Monday asking to stop this year's event.
Logan said he has kept fighting to keep dropping a possum because PETA has treated him poorly. He said he gets dozens of misinformed angry calls and emails and has even had death threats.
"I would probably have worked with them if they had worked with me," Logan told the Citizen-Times of Asheville.
PETA said no matter how well Logan treats the possum after it is captured, lowering it in front of a crowd in a box is cruel.
"Opossums are shy, timid animals, and PETA has presented (the wildlife commission) with overwhelming evidence supporting its position that dangling a live opossum above a stage amid fireworks and raucous crowds is cruel and causes stress that is likely to kill the animal days or weeks after the event," PETA attorney Martina Bernstein said in a written statement.
The Possum Drop brings thousands of people to Brasstown and includes music and a beauty pageant where men dress like women.