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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The marsupial star of a New Year's Eve tradition in a North Carolina mountain town can remain the center of attention.

The Senate agreed Wednesday without discussion on a bill excluding opossums from state wildlife laws between December 26 and January 2 in Clay County, where the annual Possum Drop celebration is held.

The Possum Drop involves lowering a possum in a clear plastic box at midnight and then releasing it.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has tried to stop the event, saying the animal is cruelly treated. A judge last year dismissed a PETA lawsuit, but another hearing is expected.

The bill is considered local legislation, which means it takes effect without the governor's signature.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

6/11/2014 4:22:21 PM (GMT -4:00)
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