(Raleigh, NC) -- A national animal rights group is headed to court in North Carolina to try to stop a small mountain town's tradition of lowering a caged opossum on New Year's Eve.
A hearing is scheduled Tuesday as part of a legal challenge filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The state agency issues a permit for the annual Possum Drop held in Brasstown, located near the state's western tip.
PETA's lawyers contend the opossum drop is illegal and cruel.
Despite the name, no opossum is dropped at the event, which attracts thousands to the tiny hamlet. Rather, the critter caught in the wild is suspended in a see-through box covered with holiday tinsel and gently lowered to the ground at midnight.