Township Orders Removal of Exotic Animals from Minnesota Fur Farm

Minnesota fur farmer Terri Petter won a state license to display her wolf pups in Deadwood last month, but she may need a new place to breed and skin her critters.

Eureka Township, MN, Resolution 2015-11, signed by Eureka Town Board Chair Brian J. Budenski 2015.06.08.
Eureka Township, MN, Resolution 2015-11, signed by Eureka Town Board Chair Brian J. Budenski 2015.06.08. (Click to embiggen!)

At its Monday, June 8, meeting, the Eureka Town Board approved Resolution 2015-11 directing its attorney to start the process of ordering the owners of the property at 10132 235th Street West, Lakeville, MN (that’s Petter’s 57-acre Fur-Ever “Wild” fur farm) to “permanently remove all exotic animals.”

The resolution responds to an April 27 ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that Eureka Township improperly rejected a nuisance complaint from neighbors of the fur farm. The Court of Appeals found that the township misread its own animal ordinances. The town board had previously ruled that Petter’s wolf-skinning counted as fur production from livestock, allowable under the township’s “right to farm” rules. However, the Court reminded the township that its own definition of “livestock” explicitly excludes “exotic animals.” The town board had also accepted Petter’s argument that her state game-farm, state fur-farm, and USDA exhibitor’s licenses. The Court said such licenses do not trump local ordinance.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case to district court to determine whether the township’s grandfathering exception would allow Petter to keep her critters. Eureka Township adopted the ordinance in question on June 7, 2005; the board became aware that Petter was keeping exotic animals in 2006. The grandfather clause would allow Petter to keep the number of animals she had prior to the ordinance, but as the Court of Appeals ruling notes, Petter appears never to have provided the town board with an accurate, dated list of the number of animals on her fur farm before or after 2005.

The township appears not to be waiting for a district court ruling; Resolution 2015-11 focuses on the language of the agricultural and exotic-animal ordinances, with no mention of the grandfather clause.

Based on health and safety concerns published here on May 19, the Animal Legal Defense Fund asked the USDA to investigate possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Fur-Ever “Wild”, an exotic-animal fur farm in Eureka Township, Minnesota. On June 3, Petter posted a letter from the USDA indicating that animal care inspector Kimberly S. Miller had found “no noncompliant items” during a routine inspection on that day:

USDA inspection report on Wolves Woods & WIldlife (a.k.a. Fur-Ever "Wild"), 2015.06.03
USDA inspection report on Wolves Woods & WIldlife (a.k.a. Fur-Ever “Wild”), 2015.06.03

Fur-Ever “Wild” apparently cleaned up its act after an unofficial visit by a South Dakota animal control officer earlier this spring revealed unhealthy and unsanitary conditions. Clean and healthy or not, the township ordinance on exotic animals now appears clear: Petter must remove her wolves and other non-domesticated, non-agricultural animals from the property.


61 Responses to Township Orders Removal of Exotic Animals from Minnesota Fur Farm

  1. Bill Dithmero

    Finally somebody. Is using their heads. But if they say they don’t know the numbers of animals that won’t fly either because each one of those animals has a USDA number assigned to it at birth.

    The Blindman

  2. Deb Geelsdottir

    I wonder why Lakeville looked for a reason to approve it in the first place? Did Petters have a lawyer there to intimidate, pressure, etc, the township? It’s certainly in a very rural area. Hmm. Interesting.

  3. Marlene Smith

    That license should have never been issued in the first place. Get rid of her.

  4. fine, she has to basically move them out of the township, state. But the question is where is she going to relocate. The animals should be taken away from her and given to a sanctuary where they will not be available for skinning, but maybe be given birth control to limit their numbers and/or used to breed later on to reintroduce wolves to the wild. We are going to need a new gene pool for reintroduction after the politicians get thru killing them off again.

  5. If they don’t know the number of animals she has , how will they know if ALL were removed and that she didn’t keep any ??

  6. Jessica Egan

    What does this mean for the wolves. I’m all for ending fur farming. But there needs to be a humane solution for all the animals involved that doesn’t involving killing or skinning.

  7. Monica Donato

    Fur farm should be outlawed completely, it doesn’t matter what type of animal it is, it’s cruel and unnecessary. What’s to stop them from just going someplace else and starting another torture farm. This needs to be outlawed, period.

  8. Donna Duran

    Thank God people that care, (ALDF) and many others have taken up this worthy cause!
    The wolves and all of her animals need to be saved and taken away from this evil person immediately and FOREVER!
    She should not be granted licenses in any state, (nor anywhere on the planet !)

  9. Solange Bowers

    It is wonderful that the exotic animals have to be removed. The animals belong in an accredited sanctuary where they can live their lives as the animals that they are. Petters should make a decent living. Tormenting animals should not be allowed. Who wants to wear fur??? Fur equals death.

  10. Just removing her from the property will not stop the torture these poor wolves have to endure. She will set up her “little shop of horrors” somewhere else. No matter how “compliant” she appeared the day of inspection (the date is usually known, in advance, with time to clean up), if I had been the USDA agent (knowing her obvious true intentions), I would have found some offenses.
    Although not necessarily the case here, gov’t agents have been known to “overlook” egregious violations, not uncommonly. I don’t trust the USDA, especially Wildlife Services. Their attack on wildlife is, especially, heinous, despite their mission to protect them.

    It is really sickening that the original approval this sociopathic female received, erroneously classified as fur production from livestock and a “right to farm” rules that it is perfectly acceptable to skin “livestock”, alive or not, just not exotics. All of our intelligent, affectionate, gentle farm animals are treated as vermin, with no protections from horrific cruelty, and subjected to heinous acts by sadistic sociopaths who laugh, while the animals scream–as if their pain and suffering doesn’t matter and even amuses them. What kind of evil humans are we breeding?

    Wolves are wonderful, but extremely misunderstood animals. They have been under attack by ranchers, hunters, farmers and APHIS Wildlife Services. As a result, wherever Petter attempts to set up her cruel operation, she, probably, won’t face much resistance. Just thinking of the probable fate of these poor animals horrifies me.

  11. Andrew Gurr

    Fur farms must be stopped nation wide. We no longer need real fur for warmth/fashion. This nation and other ntions as well, have means of imitating materials that look/feel the real thing.

  12. Cynthia Grandstaff

    The people involved with this so called farm should never be allowed to even pet another animal or feed a fish or be left alone with an animal. The pups should definitely be taken from her and placed somewhere safe.
    And why on earth would someone want a wolf coat…who are they…Cruella DeVil?
    Thank you for at least stopping her, however–I have to wonder, since she is no longer going to make a financial profit, is she going to remove the pups by moving them or permanently removing them?
    Please tell me that someone is watching her

  13. Tim Warner

    But when will they have to be cleared out and will all her properties be searched so she cant hide them because we have she will lie !!!!!!

  14. JoAnn Thompson

    When you are related to board members I guess you think you can do whatever you want….took long enough but guess not! I call it retribution for Laura!

  15. Help us out here, JoAnn: who’s related to whom in this case?

  16. Becky Grochowski

    I want to know what is going to happen to all the animals there. There are so many wolves and they need to be taken care, and not by HER!! I really hope Petters cannot keep any of these animals!!

  17. Hard to say, Becky. By breeding so many exotic animals for fur, without intention of keeping them through their natural lives, Petter may have made it difficult for any one shelter to take care of them.

  18. She is now open for business in Deadwood..

  19. Rebecca Scheer

    The entire matter is sickening and I can’t imagine why it took a court to stop this woman. What kind of people do this sort of thing? Can’t she find another way to make a living? For now, are there authorities working to resolve the issue of the wolves themselves and find places to take them and give them a second chance? I find myself wondering who has been killing them and skinning them in the first place? Was it done humanely? This should all have been taken into consideration and resolved at the time of the court order. This is really disgusting and it looks just plain bad for Minnesota. I have been following a group in Thailand who are fighting with all their might the illegal dog meat trade there and rehabilitating those poor dogs rescued from that barbaric industry (from which many dogs are skinned alive) and this situation doesn’t sound too much better to me. Who are we to criticize Thailand and other parts of the Far East for eating dog meat when people in this country think they can “farm” such a magnificent animal as a wolf? It’s outrageous!

  20. I hope they are able to get the cats and others animals to a safe place be for she sells their pelts
    .

  21. If people would just quit buying animal fur, it would put them out of business. It looks like we need more education on what one contributes to when they buy furs. We don’t live in the ice age anymore, except for our mentality is still in the dark ages.

  22. Nancy Preston

    Stop this inhumane behavior

  23. Deb Geelsdottir

    It’s nice to have these comments here. Are any of you folks connected to Howling for Wolves?

    Cory, that’s a MN organization dedicated to protecting wolves.

  24. Linda H-Campbell

    I thank all who speak up for these poor animals, there are a lot of people that care .
    We do need to outlaw fur farms and stop killing these wonderful animals , make more animal parks that are ran by the law to the T, with lot’s of inspections so the owner’s get away with murder… that county should get her out without her animals. The fact that she wanted to make money on them and then kill them for more is cruel and shameful….you can’t respect anyone like that !!

  25. JoAnnThompson

    Caheidelberger

    Petter is married to Dan Storlie That family has a large presence in Eureka township. If you look back at past board menbers, there has been one one the board the majority of the time. I just looked at the current board and for the first time that I have seen there is not one there….finally

  26. joanne leone

    stupid idiots ! I love the comment about the inspection saying it had unhealthy and unsanitary conditions . then in another paragraph they say they don’t really care if the conditions were unhealthy because she was violating an ordinance !!!! nice officials huh we don’t give a s— if they lived in filth and were unhealthy , we just don’t want the b—- violating any more ordinances . duh !! eureka Minnesota you been living in the hills a bit too long !!

  27. Joanne L, I’m a little confused as to whom you are calling “stupid idiots” and swearing at. Please clarify. If you’re referring to my closing paragraph in the original post, I’ll clarify: I’m saying that while we have conflicting reports of the sanitary conditions at the facility, the ordinance in question says the animals must be removed simply because they are exotic and not livestock.

    I am curious: suppose Petter had to get rid of her entire stock of critters. What is the humane option for a large number of wolf pups who have been bred in captivity and would, I assume, be ill-equipped to survive in the wild?

  28. JoAnnThompson

    I just read a response of hers on the fur ever wild Facebook site. She said she has no knowledge of her animals having to be removed

  29. Nena Miller

    This is gross. The USDA is ridiculous. To give a license to display animals, then to kill them and skin them is just gross. What doesn’t she understand, people don’t want to wear these cruelly raised and butchered animals. She needs a new day job. These creatures should go to a refuge.

  30. In my opinion, the remaining wolves should go to Wolf Sanctuary of PA, (717) 626-4617, Lititz, Pennsylvania or a similar wolf sanctuary. Many of the wolves there used to be exotic pets that are considered not releasable into the wild due to having been pets. I would think wolves from a fur farm that have been around people would do well there. I have enjoyed visiting this sanctuary and it’s bed and breakfast hotel called Speedwell Forge. The hotel and WSPA visitor fees and volunteers support the wolves, which receive veterinary care, fresh meat, water and plenty of room in the woods to run around in packs and howl. The wolves are not bred or skinned or pet by visitors.

  31. Pressure should be put on the businesses that buy from her. I wish we could outlaw FUR coats ,FUR decorations and anything else that uses FUR.

    Let`s get to the MEDIA and to the Schools. If we Educate enough Kids about how Fur is obtained, the suffering, the pain, the cruelty, they will talk to their Relatives and other Adults with whom they associate.
    They will also come up with some wonderful ideas to spread this movement.

    When the Star Entertainers are Booed instead of praised for wearing “Fur enhanced garments”,that would be the Death of the Fur industry at least in the USA.

  32. Elizabeth Griffith

    There are too many unknowns here. I would also like to read some follow-up on Petter and her activities. Like many of you who have commented, I am very concerned about these particular animals as well as Petter’s future involvement in the “fur” industry.

  33. Something that I cannot understand is the fact that wolves are supposed to be a protected animal! I cannot tell you how many petitions I have signed lately on just that. How is this possible for this lady to breed and kill a protected animal?

  34. “Protected”: note that canis lupus is listed as “threatened” rather than “endangered” in Minnesota. I’m not up on the formal restrictions of the Endangered Species Act, but it would appear that if Petter conducted her commerce strictly intrastate, selling furs only to Minnesota dealers, her business might not be subject to ESA. Furthermore (and we’re just talking law here, not morality), if she breeds all of her wolves in house, if she’s not trapping wild wolves and reducing the wild population, does the ESA apply?

  35. mike from iowa

    According to Fur,Fish and Game Mag,Minnesota’s first wolf season(2012) showed hunters/trappers taking 412 wolves while another 215 were removed on depredation permits(wolves known to have killed livestock and/or pets). With other wolf mortality they figured around 700 wild wolves were taken. Wisconsin hunters/trappers took 116. Wolf populations in Minn estimated at 3000 wolves.

    Interestingly,Minn moose population dropped severely in the last decade and of course wolves got most of the blame,but studies show changing climates is the biggest reason fro the decline. Wolf kills trailed moose/train collisions in the overall scheme of things.

  36. Dana McDonald

    While I find fur ‘farming’ repugnant, and this in particular disturbing, I wasn’t aware that wolves were ‘exotic’ animals. Doesn’t that mean non-native species?

  37. “Exotic” means what it means in Eureka township ordinance, which is what matters in the legal move to evict the animals from the property.

  38. Dana McDonald

    I think it should be illegal enough already. Language IS important.

  39. mike from iowa

    Legally, the definition is subject to local jurisdiction, but is defined federally in the US, in part: “[An animal] …that is native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, is not native to the United States, or was introduced from abroad.”[2] However, “[The term pet] …excludes exotic animals and wild animals.”[

  40. mike from iowa

    Sorry,that definition is from Wiki.

  41. Dana McDonald

    Right. So while farm animals aren’t legally considered pets either, I think raising wild animals for fur only, exotic or native, should be illegal. It’s immoral for sure.

  42. Susan Allen

    She should be stopped altogether. Fur farming is wrong. It should be stopped altogether. Animals should be put in a sanctuary given birth control. We are turning onto blood thirsty nation to many animals just slaughter them torture them NEEDS TO STOP…

  43. mike from iowa

    There have been a number of exotic breeds of livestock imported to the US to keep the bloodlines alive and pure. There are some people who shear dogs for their fur to weave into blankets. I suppose the same could be done with semi-tame wolves w/o having to kill them.

    What does one do when wolves are allowed to breed in captivity? Their offspring woukld probably never be re-introduced into the wilds. They don’t make good pets. What happens to them?

  44. I had been to “Fur-Ever-wild” once, before I knew what really went on there. She’s a chronic liar…. This is so long overdue. Good riddance, please just leave Minnesota and don’t come back!!

  45. Dana McDonald

    Shearing them wouldn’t provide a fur pelt.

    The answer to the other is not to breed them.

  46. mike from iowa

    You can shear them and make yarn from the hair and weave it,like some people do with dog hair or even wool of some ungulates. Actually,with dogs you can brush their hair and collect hair for weaving. http://modernfarmer.com/2014/06/dressed-dog/

  47. mrgoodthing

    I signed a petition, and a positive change occurred. That is incredibly gratifying on a personal level in addition to the positive change which occurred, and it is a powerful incentive to continue to support numerous reforms. Apparently the change was the result of an appellate court decision, but we will never know if the public outcry influenced the court. Victory still tastes sweet, and the town council has been snapped back to reality for the time being at least. It is a long road to hoe, but hopefully conditions for ALL domesticated animals will improve.

  48. Dana McDonald

    That would be nice! One step at a time.

  49. Brian Mitchell

    Keep up the good work, people of Deadwood. Also keep up the heat.

  50. Tim Warner

    JoAnn Terri and Dan are not married and Dan works with the USDA so it makes one wonder if that had any influence on her findings. And he does the pelting

  51. Mary V. Markley

    In regards to those who like wearing furs, many of them don’t really concern themselves of how the fur pelts were obtained or how the animals were treated before they were butchered for their fur. I agree with others that real fur should not be used for clothing or any other purpose. There are some really good artificial furs on the market now that are being used in place of animal fur. It seems so barbaric to wear another animal’s “clothes” and butcher baby animals just to keep those vain and most of the time rich women and some men in so called fashions that are passe’ now. The use of furs as coats, stoles, hats, etc went out of style 40 some years ago. And domestic animals should be treated humanely and euthanized humanely before skinning etc. And pulling down off birds for stuffing is stupid also. Things are getting better in some respects but there is a long time yet before these butchers get their com-upance.

  52. Dana McDonald

    I’m all for using the pelt of fur of an animal that is killed to EAT. Killing it to wear it’s ‘clothes’, as someone put it, is morally repugnant to me. It would be nice if we used every part of animals killed for food.

  53. Jacinda A. Johnson

    I agree with all that has been said here. While it IS a start that this “human” is being required to remove the wolves from her property, it DOESN’T mean she won’t just relocate them and her “farm” to somewhere else. Additionally, even if the wolves are removed from her possession permanently, it doesn’t mean that she won’t acquire more wolf pups, thus beginning the whole process again; and what IS to become of the pups she loses? They are still young and now without a caregiver of any sort; they lack the knowledge to provide for themselves. Did the court not take this into effect when making the final ruling?? Doesn’t anyone care about what happens AFTER the wolf pups are taken off the “fur farm,” because they are still in danger!!! The fight to keep these innocent creatures isn’t over; it’s just begun!!!

  54. Curious, Jacinda: do you think the court erred in its reading of the township’s ordinance? What responsibility does the court or the township have for the illegal actions of a citizen?

  55. Louise Kane

    To raise animals for fur is to have no morals, conscience or humanity. A filthy inhumane business. I hope someone is looking out for the wolves once the order to remove them was issued. Low life trap, and kill wild animals for fur, even lower life imprison them and kill them, and the lowest is to buy fur. No one deserves to wear a fur coat unless its the animal that grew the fur

  56. That’s all lies. No “quick cleanup” was done– it’s the same there as it has always been: perfectly clean and healthy and safe for all animals. They inspectors were even laughing this whole petition by you so-called animal “activists” who are doing more harm than good. Give it up!

  57. Dana McDonald

    James, to me, it’s not even the conditions in this case that are the problem. Raising wolves for fur is screwed up. Especially making money off of letting people pet them while they are young. It’s disgusting. I’m sure you see nothing wrong with it, which is why you would be part of the problem if that’s the case.

  58. To James:
    If your friends the inspectors find these fur farm inspections so ridiculously hilarious, perhaps more serious – and therefore more professional – inspectors should be inspecting the fur farm rather than comedians and clowns like yourself. In case you are open to learning more about wolves and dog-wolf hybrids in order to enlighten your brain about other mammals, please go to wolfsanctuarypa.org and read about wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. As I wrote days before, in my humble opinion, the wolves should go to Wolf Sanctuary of PA, if that sanctuary is able to take them in because they would live longer and more quality lives at WSPA than at Furever Wild. Please put yourself in the paws/shoes of the wolves. Imagine what it would be like for you if you were separated from your parents at an early age and then you died young in a gas chamber because unempathetic people wanted products made of your harry skin. This is what happens to wolves at Furever Wild (and also what happened during the Holocaust to Jewish prisoners). This is why the predicament of the wolves is definitely not funny to me. However, what I do find funny is that your post about the laughing inspectors in fact weakens your antiquated argument in favor of furring.

  59. James, you really should see a dentist with all that Kool-Aid you are drinking. Do you know why all the photos of the wolves are licking everyone’s faces? It is not a sign of affection. Wolve pups in the wild will lick their mother’s face to get them to regurgitate food to feed the pups. The fact they were taken from their natural mothers so early (for those $175/hour photoshoots and $20 pet-n-pelt, shows that they were taken far too early, and that they are not fed properly.

  60. Linda Kanter

    Ok, all of you folks who have made great comments, fur farming is all over our country & Canada & elsewhere. It is absolutely horrifying. I watched a short video & almost had an emotional breakdown. These animals at most fur “farms” have been trapped & are horribly injured & are put in cages while suffering & waiting to be electracuted & skinned ….similar to the dog meat trade in Asian countries. Although the dogs get bludgeoned first. We are a species of barbarism that has become an epidemic, all due to greed or mental illness …..I am so disturbed. Furever Wild is just a needle in a huge barbaric haystack, but we should never give up. We are the only hope for these innocent animals.

  61. mary Lester

    I visited the fur ever wild farm in Lakeville. No water was placed for any animals. Plenty of hot dogs available but no food dishes evident. Wonder how they keep the area clean???? No many staff available. So sad to read these comments and to look back to see the unhealthy compound. Hopefully things will move along and the animals will be placed other places.