A bill intended to settle a legal fight in North Carolina over an unusual New Year's Eve tradition involving an opossum has cleared a hurdle.
The bill was given preliminary approval in the state House Tuesday by a vote of 101 to 13. Another vote is set for Wednesday before it heads to the Senate.
The measure gives the Wildlife Resources Commission authority to permit the organizer of the Brasstown Possum Drop to display a wild-caught animal. By tradition, the marsupial is suspended in a tinsel-covered box and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.
A judge agreed in November with lawyers for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that issuing such a permit is illegal under current state law. PETA says the annual event is inhumane.