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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers have introduced a bill that would give the state the explicit authority to allow the organizer of a New Year's Eve Possum Drop to use a live animal.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals successfully sued the state Wildlife Resources Commission over a permit allowing the organizer of the annual event in Brasstown to trap a wild possum. Traditionally, the fuzzy marsupial was suspended in a clear box adorned with tinsel and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.

The bill introduced Monday would grant the commission the ability to issue permits for wild animals to be held captive for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes. Among the bill's sponsors is House Speaker Tom Tillis, who has attended the Possum Drop.

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