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Fur Farmer Gets Deadwood Wolf Permit, But No Petting Allowed

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board yesterday issued Minnesota fur farm operator Terri Petter a license to house wolf pups and fox kits in Deadwood. The board refused to allow customers to pet the animals. Petter had planned to charge visitors twenty dollars to pet the coat-bound critters for twenty minutes, but state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven joined local opponents in saying a wolf petting zoo is a bad idea:

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven advised the board against allowing “pet and play” in Deadwood.

“The consensus of science, especially among public health veterinarians, is (it’s) generally recommended that dangerous animals such as wolves and animals which may serve as a reservoir for rabies such as foxes not be in public contact,” Oedekoven said.

Opponents also said they were concerned about safety at the Deadwood site. Sharon Martinisko, a Deadwood resident, said her biggest concerns were the possibility of injury and the spread of disease.

“By eliminating the contact, that took the biggest piece out of it,” she said. “The facility is going to be closely monitored. If not by city government, it will be monitored by the citizens” [“State Approves Controversial Wildlife Display Business Opening in Deadwood,” AP via Rapid City Journal, 2015.05.21].

The Animal Industry Board refused to allow opponents to speak on the unsanitary and inhumane conditions in which Petter raises the animals that she will bring to Deadwood before skinning them. The board’s blockage of wolf petting is a small win for local animal rights activists. Petter spins that loss by noting that Animal Industry Board simply killed jobs, not her profit margin:

In a later interview, she said the Deadwood business would lose out on revenues from the petting-zoo aspect, but at the same time, she wouldn’t have to hire as many animal handlers, so the business wouldn’t lose money.

“We can cut our staff by one-fifth,” she said [“State Approves…,” 2015.05.21].

Petter says she’ll be hawking shirts and trinkets at her Deadwood shop in time for the Memorial Day weekend. She’ll have critters on site by next week. She’ll want to sell as much loot and looking as she can, in case the USDA acts on the complaint it received this week about possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at her Minnesota fur farm.


  1. Paul Seamans 2015-05-21 08:21

    In most cases all you have to do to receive a permit from a state or local government entity is to mention “jobs” or “tax revenue”. We’ll maybe worry about adverse effects later.

  2. Paul Seamans 2015-05-21 08:32

    I have a good friend that raised a few wolves on his rural property a few years back. He had good pens but to even look at the big male wolf inside the pen would make your blood run cold. He was quite careful but one time he was careless and the big male clamped down on his shoulder and he had to drag the seven foot tall wolf to his house door and call to his wife to quick, bring his .45 Colt. You can’t convince me that something like this couldn’t happen in Deadwood.

  3. Daniel Buresh 2015-05-21 09:16

    They surplus kill. A pack has been known to be opportunistic, so when they roll up on a herd of elk, they will take all the calves possible if they can get them. They may kill 10, but only eat 3 that day, only to return for the rest of the carcasses later that week.

  4. mike from iowa 2015-05-21 09:30

    Maybe if someone lets the wolves loose,they’ll huff and puff and blow down Cafos and eat all the little pigs inside.

  5. Bill Dithmer 2015-05-21 10:25

    Paul, his name is Fredrickson and he lives south of the Big White on what was the Ted Pettyjohn place on Redstone Creek. Two weeks before he was attacked we were at a social at Brett and Tammy Prangs when we started talking about his wolves. He stated at the time that he wasnt scared of any of his wolves. I told him that night that his time would come.

    Lesli another artical from a wolf lover. Ask hunter what they see, ask why the migration routes have been changed since reintroduction. Then tell me they dont kill for sport.

    The Blindman

  6. Bill Dithmer 2015-05-21 10:27

    I see that nobody has done the only thing that can stop this petting zoo once an for all. Its so symple and your making it tough.

    The Blindman

  7. Nick Nemec 2015-05-21 10:41

    I’m dumb. What would stop it?

  8. Bill Dithmer 2015-05-21 11:02

    No Nick I’m not gonna say, but I will give you a hint. It doesnt mater what anybody has to say the final decision as to whether this is a go will hinge on her Usda license or licenses. If you are willing to sort through the USDAs regulations your answer is there.

    And there is one other way. The state vet can make the determination that the woves pose a risk to the other animals in the state. And yes it has already been with wild boars.

    Before everyone jumps, I held a class c USDA license for over twenty years. The risk of huge fines was enough for me to keep me kennels up to date. Conditions like those described in MN would be a big fine if the operators didnt have a very good excuse.

    At any rate, the only opinion that matters is that of the USDA inspector.

    If you can’t figure out what to do from my hints I feel sorry for all of you.

    The Blindman

  9. Paul Seamans 2015-05-21 12:15

    Bill Dithmer; I guess everybody in South Dakota probably knows everyone else, no need for me to be coy about things. Then you know of the long, lean wolf of which I speak.
    As for Deadwood, if any of these wolves get loose then I wouldn’t want to be part of the group that issued the permit.

  10. Bill Dithmer 2015-05-22 05:57

    _ No Paul, I never saw any of those wolves and only know of them through the conversation from that night at Prangs.

    The Blindman

  11. barry freed 2015-05-22 09:18

    I have had wolf hybrids in my family and still interact with friends’ hybrids on a regular basis. As the State is very weird about them, I would no longer have one. I now have a herding breed originally descended from European Wolves that exhibit the look, pack devotion, Wolf mannerisms, and a keen intelligence. Aggression is not seen in the breed and very difficult to bring out. Wolves are dogs like any other. They want to be touched, they want to be with you. Handled from birth by warmhearted owners, their attachment, gentleness, and love are amazing. Kept in a pen, all dogs are anti-social to differing degrees.
    Our relationship with the canine goes to the deepest parts of our souls. How someone could spend that much time with a dog, kill it, and skin it for decoration is scary from a psychological point of view. Have people gone missing in her neighborhood? Her Wolves follow her to the kill shed wagging their tails and smiling, even though they have seen their pack mates go in that shed to die. I don’t want her living near me, she may sleep walk and I smell like my dog.
    Gross, but effective, would be a protest with pictorial posters set up next to this tourist trap.
    Prevent pregnancy and coo over them for the short time they are with us warming our feet. Too soon, they will be gone.

  12. Bill Dithmer 2015-05-22 13:15

    Barry, you are part of the problem. Paul give barry Fredricksons ph number.

    The Blindman

  13. barry freed 2015-05-23 07:50

    Glad to hear it!
    … what problem?

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