Possum Festival Under Fire By PETA
A tradition in Wausau is coming under fire today from an animal rights group.
For the past 40 years, the Wausau Fun Day and Possum Festival has drawn large crowds.
"I founded that festival to give the people of Wausau something to do,” said Possum Festival Founder Dalton Carter. "And also nobody had given the possum a day, we build him a monument, give him a day, not to abuse him."
But now PETA is challenging that day.
They claim the event breaks animal cruelty laws by not having a USDA license to safely exhibit and auction off possums.
PETA also claims when festival goers grab and shake possums by their tails, they not only frighten the animals, but can also cause them harm.
"When you hold an adult opossum by the tail, its incredible painful and it can cause permanent injury including spinal dislocation, nerve damage," said Counsel to the Cruelty Investigations Department at PETA, Brittany Peet
"Anybody with one eye and half sense knows that, that's the way that you handle a possum. You take him by the tail and you slightly yo-yo him. And we do not harm that possum, to my knowledge," explained Carter.
PETA is asking the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to investigate this year's festival.
"To prevent wild opossums to be used in future events, and to prosecute anyone who engaged in illegal activity or cruelty to animals,” Peet said.
PETA says their research also found possums tend to die painfully soon after these sorts of events.
For Carter, he says he never knew he could be breaking any laws.
"I've had governors for the State of Florida on the stage with me, I've had U.S senators on the stage with me. To know what I'm having to face here now to depend our festival, it hurts my heart," explained Carter.
He's not sure what will come of the investigation, but stands by the festival. He tells me they'll continue planning next year's event as normal.
PETA hopes FWC completes its investigation before next year's festival
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