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Failed Deadwood Pelting-Wolf Exhibit: More Signs than Customers?

Minnesota fur farmer Terri Petter blames Deadwood and South Dakota’s overregulation and hypocrisy for the closure of her Fur-Ever “Wild” exhibit of wolf pups and other pelting-stock in Deadwood. However, a series of photos spanning the brief two-month lifespan of the wolf exhibit suggests a more straightforward explanation for the closure of Petter’s business: a lack of business.

A Black Hills correspondent for Dakota Free Press drove by Petter’s wolf exhibit on a regular basis for the last couple months and saw growing signage but no signs of growing commerce.

Friday, May 22, 2015: Petter has the sign up in front of her new Deadwood wolf exhibit, which she said she expected to have open by this day.
Friday, May 22, 2015: Petter has the sign up in front of her new Deadwood wolf exhibit, which she said she expected to have open by this day.
Friday, May 22, 2015: Not many vehicles in the driveway.
Friday, May 22, 2015: Not many vehicles in the driveway.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015: a stuffed wolf joins the sign out front.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015: a stuffed wolf joins the sign out front…
Wednesday, June 3, 2015: Nobody in the driveway.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015: Nobody in the driveway.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015: Forget the stuffed wolf, showing the animals we actually display; let's put some carvings of bears out front! Everybody loves bears!
Wednesday, July 8, 2015: Forget the stuffed wolf, showing the animals we actually display; let’s put some carvings of bears out front! Everybody loves bears!
Wednesday, July 8, 2015: driveway empty again.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015: And the driveway is still empty.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015: Let's try even more signs on the other side of the driveway... right next to the real estate "For Sale" sign...
Wednesday, July 22, 2015: Let’s try even more signs on the other side of the driveway… right next to the real estate “For Sale” sign…
Wednesday, July 22, 2015: ...and still, no one pulls into that driveway.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015: …and still, no one pulls into that driveway.
Friday, July 31, 2015: Sturgis Rally is coming, so let's at least try to sell a motorcycle... and move that realty sign up a little higher where more people can see it. Maybe it worked: there's one truck parked on the grass by the driveway.
Friday, July 31, 2015: Sturgis Rally is coming, so let’s at least try to sell a motorcycle… and move that realty sign up a little higher where more people can see it. Maybe it worked: there’s one truck parked on the grass by the driveway.

It is entirely possible that my correspondent happened to drive by and take photos on four days that all just happened to be slow, and that had my correspondent waited to snap those pix just an hour longer each time, that driveway would have been teeming with visitors. But my correspondent reports that the place looked like it does in these photos every time my correspondent drove by, with or without the camera.

The empty driveway suggests the lack of demand led to the demise of Petter’s Deadwood operation. Of course, it’s possible that lack of supply may be shutting her down:

Screen cap showing Eureka Township civil suit against Teresa Petter, Dan Storlie, and their business entities Fur-Ever Wild and Wolves, Woods & Wildlife, filed 2015.07.31, downloaded 2015.08.03.
Screen cap showing Eureka Township civil suit against Teresa Petter, Dan Storlie, and their business entities Fur-Ever Wild and Wolves, Woods & Wildlife, filed 2015.07.31, downloaded 2015.08.03.

On July 31 (Petter’s birthday, according to her public Facebook information), Eureka Township filed a civil suit against Petter, Dan Storlie, and their fur-farm businesses in Lakeville, Minnesota. Minnesota doesn’t place the court documents online, but I’d speculate this civil suit has something to do with Petter’s unwillingness to comply with Eureka Township’s court-clarified exotic animal ordinance.

Petter blames Deadwood and South Dakota for not letting her expand. But it looks like she wasn’t able to fire up the cash register within the existing business plan that Deadwood generously grandfathered into its new exotic animal ordinance. Don’t blame Deadwood or South Dakota; there are at least a couple obvious, simpler reasons for Petter’s business failure that lie at her own feet.

Update 2015.08.04 16:33 CDT: A copy of Eureka Township’s civil complaint comes to DFP. It outlines what we know: that Petter and Storlie are harboring, breeding, raising, exhibiting, and skinning exotic animals in violation of local ordinance and asks the court to order Petter and Storlie to cease all such activity on their Minnesota property.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-03 21:24

    I wonder if she’s related to Tom Petters? Yes, there is the difference of an “s” in their names. It wouldn’t be the first time members of a family spelled their name differently.

    At this time Tom is serving something like 50 years in prison because his Wealth and Business Empire was really just a ponzi scheme that cheated honest people out of most of their money.

    Of course Terri Petter may not be related to Tom Petters.

  2. scott 2015-08-03 21:40

    this would fit right in as an “attraction” at badlands pawn.

  3. Dana P 2015-08-04 09:06

    Yes, I think this was doomed from the start……thank goodness. I don’t know if she will have any luck selling the place quickly. More than likely, it will be on the market for a long time. Like it was before SHE bought it.

    btw Cory…..your humble correspondent is….humbled…. (smile)

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-04 10:16

    My humble correspondents get things done! My humble correspondents should all come to the South Dakota Blogosphere Picnic on Saturday, September 12!

    Scott, watch for that—wolves would make fine mascots for Sioux Falls’s greatest contribution to the payday lending industry… right next to the shark-petting tank.

  5. Kerry 2015-08-04 21:02

    Thank you! I have been watching the eyesore expand and the driveway remain empty! My favorite sign is the “for sale”!

  6. Ericka 2015-08-05 15:16

    Please exploit, ruin and torture Petter, Storlie and their gang of ruthless fellow killers to the laws fullest extent.

    This is abhorrent and archaic and must be stopped.

    Stop the slaughter.

  7. Sondra York 2015-08-05 15:22

    Breeding? exhibiting? skinning? wolves and other animals??????? Disgusting. What some people will do for money. Just awful. Get a job people!

  8. Michelle 2015-08-05 15:25

    No, your correspondent didn’t drive by on days that just happened to be slow. I live in this vicinity and drive by almost daily. Never saw any traffic, but it sure was a shameful mess, a disgrace to the community of Deadwood. So much junk out in front, not only the signs, but a tent with merchandise as well. It was a pathetic attempt at a business that never belonged in our historic town to begin with, an embarrassment. I hope it sells quickly!

  9. Francesca 2015-08-05 15:38

    So nice to see that people do not find it entertaining to share heart space with an animal by “petting” it just before it is brutally murdered and skinned alive. Perhaps humanity is finally begining to get “in touch” in a more real way.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-05 16:11

    Note that Petter doesn’t own the property:

    Deadwood businessman Greg Vecchi, who owns the property at 305 Cliff St. in Deadwood and has a contract for deed arrangement with Fur-Ever Wild owners Petter and Dan Storlie, verified that the property has been listed for sale.

    “Essentially, I still own (the property). It’s on a contract for deed,” Vecchi said. “They’re putting it up for sale with my permission. I have given them permission to put it up for sale and they can keep it for sale, as long as they follow the provisions of the contract for deed contract. Right now, they are following that” [Jaci Conrad Pearson, “‘Fur’ Sale,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2015.08.01].

    If it sells quickly, the proceeds would go to Vecchi, right?

  11. Jerry [2] 2015-08-05 17:09

    Good job Eureka in shutting them down ! But watch where
    they go ! Idaho or Utah may be next. They will find a friend out
    there since the politicians, and their friends in those states are
    on a crusade to hunt down, and kill as many wolves as they can,
    by any means they can.

  12. Linda Strader 2015-08-05 17:15

    When I first heard about being able to pet wolf pups, I thought- awesome!! But, as I kept reading, I found it utterly disgusting that anyone would let their children pet any animal that is about to be killed and skinned for just the pelt. How do you explain such a thing to a kid?!? Oh, pet the pretty puppy before they hang him by his heels and skin him up, honey! Last chance! Sure…..I like to hunt and fish, but we also eat. If you ain’t gonna eat it, why would you kill it? I was taught to hunt and fish by my parents who also emphasized the importance of treating an animal with respect and kindness- they are the food you eat, so take good care of your food from the start, and it will take good care of you. We waste nothing- we use everything- all of it. And we certainly don’t raise animals as pets and then use them for food… just don’t do that. I find the thought not only nauseating, but very cruel. Befriend something and then kill it? Just for the pelt? Nope, not happening. And, to advertise that this is what you do? That would be why the driveway is empty- I pretty much guarantee it. The equivelant would be taking you kid to the slaughterhouse and then out for a burger… just doesn’t jive, honey….as for the town being ashamed- you shouldn’t be….. you should be proud to be ousting someone like this…..person and I’m using the term VERY loosely here… Good luck to the town- y’all sound like a good group of peoples!

  13. Rachel 2015-08-05 17:22

    Great but what happens to the living animals ?

  14. Laura Reif 2015-08-05 17:43

    Many places that sell pelts skin the animals alive to preserve the pelt and get the max amount of money. (There is video evidence of this, don’t watch it. The animals are still alive after being skinned). I wonder if she did this?

  15. M. Solange 2015-08-05 18:19

    It is great news! Stopping cruelty to animals!!! How can you skinned the animals for money? It is disgusting!

  16. Anne Lewis-Strobell 2015-08-05 18:59

    So what happens to the animals now? Will they be killed ?

  17. Cheryl Gehrke 2015-08-05 20:01

    I am so happy about this. I was hoping and praying that she would go out of business. All fur sellers should go out of business. All I can say is thank God that this happened. I am hoping that all people everywhere will know that fur belongs to the animal who was born with it. I did like the bears, but am so happy that she will no longer be selling anything.

  18. Jennifer Sereque 2015-08-05 20:42


  19. Melanie 2015-08-06 09:11

    What’s going to happen to all the animals if Minnesota is able to close down this animal exhibit in Lakeville too? If everyone is so willing to do whatever it takes to shut them down, will everyone be that determined to re-home every single animal affected? I’m sure the powers that be don’t have one care if they put down all of the animals, which may very well happen. I’m all for shutting down people who exploit animals for money and put their financial needs before the well-being of any animal, but not at the cost of killing the animals in the end. There has to be a way to better handle the entire situation where the innocent animals are not paying the price for once.

  20. Melanie 2015-08-06 09:21

    BTW I had no idea that they killed the poor animals for their skins! At the Lakeville, MN location they state no where that they do such a thing.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-06 10:07

    What happens to the animals is a fair question. But permit me to append this moral question: what responsibility do other people bear for fixing the problem created by Petter’s actions? The wolves she has aren’t really wild; they have been bred in captivity. They would not exist if she had not penned and bred wolves for skinning. Many of the commenters here hold the position that penning and skinning wolves is wrong. Eureka Township deems such penning and skinning illegal. Are those of us who call for shutting down her immoral/illegal business to be held guilty for the death of the animals if they are confiscated, if they can’t be released into the wild, and they can’t be safely and legally penned elsewhere? (Note, I’m not necessarily arguing, just asking an honest moral question, possible responses to which I’m eager to hear.)

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-06 10:09

    While I’m at it, to all you new readers to this blog, thanks for coming! Dakota Free Press is powered by your donations. If you’d like to support more quality South Dakota blogging, please ring the Tip Jar (near right sidebar, right below the “Recent Comments”) with your Paypal donation. Thanks!

    Cory Allen Heidelberger
    Dakota Free Press
    Aberdeen, South Dakota

  23. Shari 2015-08-06 11:16

    We are working to find sanctuaries that can take the exotics. We will do everything possible to ensure they live out a full, natural life. They deserve that.

    You can read many of the documents and articles about her fur farm on our petition page where she states, under oath, that she skins every animal except the pigs and goats. Including the horses which are used for meat. The pigs and goats are “feeder” animals for the wolves.

  24. Melanie 2015-08-06 12:24

    I do place all blame on Petter’s and not the people who are shutting down this awful organization. But at the end of the day placing blame doesn’t get anyone anywhere, especially with victims who have no voice and very small legal rights in this world. It just slightly frustrates me that some people are so quick to do the easy tasks, but when it comes down to the hard parts (dealing with what to do with the animals), no one wants to step up. I just hope when the time comes there will be nearly as many people to help as there was in support to end this cruel organization.

  25. Linda Strader 2015-08-06 12:25

    I would think they would go to a Sanctuary somewhere- I know they are out there. If not a Sanctuary, maybe a zoo? If they are bred in captivity, it does not make them domestic. It takes several generations to make them ‘domesticated’, so they are still considered Wild. They will NOT make good pets- they were meant to be wild and they will retain their wild instincts- no matter what you may think- they are cute and cuddly- ALL babies are (OK, porcupines may not be!! But they are still cute as a button!!)- but when they reach adolescence, well, you know how teens are…..imagine teens with teeth and claws!! From the point they pass from being babies, they are not to be trusted not to bite, snap, snarl, claw, or otherwise cause serious injury!! People get the wrong idea and think they can train these traits out like we have dogs- but how long have we been domesticating dogs? If it would be allowed that someone had a wildlife rehab center, I believe that would be the best option. They would be loved and cared for (they don’t know how to hunt- they must be taught, etc), would retain human interaction (now required because they have been raised during their formative months with humans), and could be used as Ambassadors to further the conservation of Wolves in the Wild. It’s a shame humans have to ruin everything.

  26. Shari 2015-08-06 12:27

    Melanie, there are hundreds of us all across the country working on this to find them homes. It’s not an easy task, but true conservationists and sanctuaries take this very seriously and will ensure they have the best life possible…until their natural end.

  27. Melanie 2015-08-06 12:27

    Great – now reading that it just makes me want to go to that place and kidnap those animals to avoid being slaughtered.

    Thanks for letting me know their are good people already in the works of finding homes for those animals.

  28. Linda Strader 2015-08-06 12:35

    Just as an FYI- If I had money- no animal would ever go hungry or homeless or be stuck in a situation that is abusive. Since I have no money, I am always more then willing to help where I can doing what I can. I have a pick-up truck, I am able bodied, strong/tuff, know how to use tools (both manual and power), have a good head on my shoulders and I also love animals so much, I have studied them all my life and I believe I have ‘animal smarts’. I can tell when an animal is getting ‘upset’ and ready to ‘git’ me…..before they actually do it. I live on a boat part time and also an apartment the other part (mostly on the boat!). I have taken Veterinary Sciences for 3 years thanks to 4-H when I was a teen and I also continue to improve my knowledge over the years. I can shovel sh*t, remove carcasses, care for the sick, build fences, clean stables/housing….and ever so much more. I just have no money…..but seem to be equipped with most everything else….. is there something I could do? Ask me, and I’ll figure out how to get there and help!!!

  29. Shari 2015-08-06 12:39

    Thank you all! Cory will keep everyone updated as this progresses. I also update often on the petition page.

  30. Jeanie Fredlund 2015-08-06 16:37

    I wrote a comment to Melanie this morning but don’t see it here.

    [Jeanie, that’s because, somehow, it ended up under my “Policies” page. Here’s the text Jeanie submitted earlier:]

    Melanie, there is a woman in Minnesota with a cat sanctuary in Minnesota who wants them very much. While they still belong to Terri, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen to them. That is precisely the reason that people are fighting this fight. Right now they belong to Terri. Perhaps you’d like to go and get them?

  31. Marie 2015-08-07 09:21

    This so called exhibit will be at the Dakota County Fair in August. We need to picket this exhibit and never have them come back.. Some one also needs to look into this ” non profit ” status and check out all financing etc. She has a felony for theft in Dakota County and that will need to be looked at also

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-07 09:27

    Petter is bringing an exhibit to the Dakota County Fair? Has she or the Fair publicized what she will be displaying? And what record do we have of this alleged felony? Please elaborate, Marie.

  33. Marie 2015-08-07 09:43

    Thanks for posting the site for the felony charges Kerry. Someone should also look into her possession of firearms on the property. She and Dan both carry and It should be illegal with felonies on her record. They fair has been advertising the exhibit and it should be stopped!!!!

  34. Linda Strader 2015-08-07 09:58

    Are they telling people that they will be skinning the animals they are letting their kids pet??

  35. Thomas 2015-09-06 22:55

    You idiots believe anything you read, don’t you? I used to volunteer at the Minneasota location and you couldn’t meet a group of nicer, more caring people in the world, and the animals were amazing well kept! Don’t believe this lunatic for a second.

  36. Linda Strader 2015-09-07 09:33

    Mr. Thomas- the simple fact that kids play with and pet an animal that will be killed (we certainly HOPE even though we heard differently) and skinned is just disgusting. All your words and bullsh!t will not change that fact. And it IS a fact- correct? Disgusting. Just disgusting…… if you’re wanting fur, you should have to do the old fashioned way and hunt it and eat it and use all the parts. PERIOD. It is disgusting to let a kid play with animals like that. Do you tell your child what they’re going to do or do you lie to them? Disgusting. Period.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-07 19:24

    Thomas, does my being an idiot (in your ad hominem eyes) change the fact that Petter is operating her Lakeville operation in violation of local ordinance? Does my being a lunatic (again, in your eyes) change the fact that Petter lacked the business acumen to stay in business for more than two months in South Dakota’s tourism mecca?

    See, Thomas? I don’t bother calling you an idiot and a lunatic, because such name-calling doesn’t change the facts of the case. When you disagree with someone on a question of fact, calling the person with whom you disagree an idiot or a lunatic does not strengthen the grounds for your argument. It actually weakens your credibility.

    But if you’re more interested in feeling like you’ve talked tough and landed a haymaker than actually establishing facts, well, then you may have stumbled into the wrong bar. Care to try again?

  38. grudznick 2015-09-07 19:57

    Mr. H, you are not an idiot or a lunatic. I know of what I type when I say I know some about lunatics.

    However, Mr. Kerry posts links to court documents, and if you read them I see nothing where it is factually found that these people raised animals primarily for slaughter and pelting. The response document filed with the court specifically agrees with only paragraphs 1-6 and actually refutes paragraph 22 of the accusations. So if you believe these documents, and there is no reason you should not, you still don’t know what lurks in the hearts of or is intended by these animal owning people who were run out of Deadwood. I’m just saying.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-07 21:22

    If our disagreement is about whether Petter pelts her critters, Petter herself has said she breeds and skins the wolves the creatures and sells those pelts. There’s not much room for disagreement on that point.

    If our disagreement is about how well she treats her animals before skinning, we have Thomas telling us Petter and company are nice people and keep the animals “amazing well”, while we have a visitor reporting substandard conditions and the USDA citing 15 instances of non-compliance since 2012. There is more room for debate on this issue.

    There is little room for anyone involved in that debate to shout “Idiot!” or “Lunatic!”

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