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ALDF Ultimatum to Petter: Quit Exploiting Pelting Wolves or We Sue

If Terri Petter’s own bad business and media sense hadn’t led to the closure of her pelting-wolf exhibit in Deadwood after just ten weeks of operation, perhaps the Animal Legal Defense Fund would have. The San Francisco-based ALDF just issued Petter an ultimatum: stop killing and skinning wolves at your Minnesota “Fur-Ever Wild” facility in 60 days, or ALDF sues for violations of the Endangered Species Act:

The Lakeville, Minnesota, business displays wolf pups in a petting zoo and later skins them for their fur, according to statements made by owner Terri Petter. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is asking Fur-Ever Wild to agree to stop killing and skinning wolves or the organization will file suit in 60 days.

The Gray Wolf, canis lupus, is a listed species under the Endangered Species Act. ALDF alleges that by using wolf pups as an attraction in its petting zoo, then later skinning them for their fur—in the process killing them—Fur-Ever Wild is violating Section 9 of the Act and is subject to civil or criminal penalties.

“Fur-Ever Wild shows contempt not only for the lives of magnificent endangered animals but also for federal law,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We hope Fur-Ever Wild will cease its wolf-killing operation in the next 60 days but, if not, we intend to sue to assure the law is enforced” [Animal Legal Defense Fund, press release, 2015.12.02].

Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act says we cannot “(E) deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce, by any means whatsoever and in the course of a commercial activity, any such species; (F) sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any such species” listed as endangered. ESA Section 10 allows the Interior Secretary to issue permits to so handle listed species “for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species,” but those permits don’t seem to extend to Petter’s commercial purposes.


  1. Michael Sunfire 2015-12-02 11:36

    Holding animals captive is a gross transgression of universal Law.

    ALDF Ultimatum to Petter to quit exploiting pelting wolves or be sued is a victory for We the People and especially for Mother Earth which appears to be in distress by the anti-natural actions motivated by greed/ignorance, and maliciousness.

  2. nancy butler 2015-12-02 11:36

    this woman should still be tried in court and sentenced. and certainly not given 60 days to abstain her activities. she is scum to kill wolves.

  3. Maureen C. Allen 2015-12-02 11:40

    PELT PETTER — In Court! Renewing monthly ALDF contribution today.

  4. Diane45 2015-12-02 11:51

    What a vile human being. Shame on her.

  5. Cindy guarnieri 2015-12-02 12:01

    People have to stop hurting, abusing, harming, disrespecting, and torturing and killing animals. This is 2015! We need to be kind to one another. We all share Mother Earth and we are all connected.

  6. Stephanie Christoff 2015-12-02 13:12

    Wolves are to be protected not skinned. I am saddened and disappointed that my country is abusing animals. Unless you are living in the Arctic Circle, I don’t see why furs are necessary. There are enough faux fur products out there that can spare animals lives.

  7. Johanna Turitto 2015-12-02 13:15

    Are you saying she is still performing this atrocity? Don’t give her days! Make it immediate! What are you waiting for? !!!
    And release names of people who purchased the pelts. And city of residence. Just thinking about what these creatures must endure at the hands of the murders. The terror. The horrific pain. Think about it as if it was happening to you or some other innocent creatures. Maybe even a human. Evolve people!

  8. Kayan Sherrer 2015-12-02 13:45

    Wolves have a right to come back to where they use to be. They help with our ecosystem and thin out and strengthen herds by taking down sick and weak deer, elk, moose and other animals. They are needed by the earth and the animals to maintain balance. Stop the killing there are other ways to thin over populated areas, there is no need for animal fur when man made materials work just as good if not better to provide warmth.

  9. Marc Mease 2015-12-02 14:03

    There should be no 60 days, actions should be immediate and severe. She should also be forced to turn over the records of the sales and uses of the pelts so the people who bought or used the pelts can be prosecuted as well. This action should be a domino effect starting with her and hit everyone connected with her or the sales. Make a loud and clear statement not only to those that harm, skin, kill, or otherwise abuse animals but also to those who purchase the products or services produced by these people.

  10. Daniel Laemmerhirt 2015-12-02 14:07

    “Lookit’ the precious wolf puppies! They’re soft and cute! But what happens when they get too old papa?”
    “Oh, they skin ’em and throw out the bodies sweetie.”
    Nice discussion huh? Well that’s one that some little kids with frank parents are having. It’s very disgusting that this is allowed to take place, much less with animals on the brink of extinction.

  11. BBD 2015-12-02 14:10

    Has anyone went and looked at the Fur Ever Wild facebook site? I think everyone will find the recent postings very interesting.

  12. sandy poole 2015-12-02 14:24

    I am disgusted that this great and powerful nation allows the torture, abuse and killing of wonderful innocent animals…..this world is overflowing with cruel horrid people like this woman and thousands like her…this world is doomed if we don’t change

  13. Brandy Fontenot 2015-12-02 15:00

    Wolves are one of the symbols of our freedom. What is more free than the wolf or it should be? Why are you treating them as items for exploitation?

  14. Jamie S 2015-12-02 15:51

    I am so happy to hear she is being stopped. She is a sick and twisted woman who shouldn’t be allowed around animals. I live close to her Minnesota location and it breaks me heart.

  15. mike from iowa 2015-12-02 16:16

    Hate to break up the love fest,but wolves kill healthy deer and moosies and lots of baby deer and moosies and buffalo and cattle and horses and coyotes and foxes and rabits,birds,dogs, and an occasional human.

  16. Jamie S 2015-12-02 16:40

    True, Mike from Iowa . The difference is that it takes place in the animal kingdom in a process called NATURAL SELECTION. This woman breeds and raises them strictly to be killed for fur and makes money from it. These animals wouldn’t be born/around if it wasn’t for her and her disgusting business. Wait “family friendly petting zoo”.

  17. BIll DIthmer 2015-12-02 17:03

    You people are forgetting something here, she owns those animals.! If she has a three generation pedigree she is legal and nothing anyone here says will make any differences.

    The Blindman

  18. Scott Slocum 2015-12-02 17:26

    Bill Dithmer: no, ownership is not the whole story. Yes, mixed breeding with other canid species would remove any wolf hybrids from ESA protection, but I haven’t heard that they’re doing that; and even if they were, a wolf-dog operation would be subject to public-safety rules, agricultural rules, local ordinances, etc. Not to mention that it would be significantly less attractive to ticket-buying visitors and pelt buyers. I hope there are rules somewhere against producing and selling dog pelts in Minnesota.

  19. BIll DIthmer 2015-12-02 18:09

    You better find a USDA reg book.

    The Blindman

  20. Red 2015-12-02 21:43

    I support the effort to shut down Fur-Ever Wild, but unfortunately I’m not sure whether the ALDF has a case. Has anyone here ever read “Animal Underworld” by Alan Green? There are loopholes in the ESA that allow the captive-born offspring of endangered animals to be sold for profit, for any purpose–including purposes such as being used for fur, trophies, or medical research. This is why the ESA was recently amended to make a special case for the protection of chimpanzees in captivity, making medical research on chimps illegal over forty years after the ESA was originally passed. This is also why you get the occasional news story about some kook who was mauled to death by his pet tiger at home–it’s perfectly legal to own a captive-born pet tiger in some states. The fate of any captive-born wild animal in this country is very insecure, and too often gruesome. They might have a case under the Lacey Act if she is running pelts across state lines…but then again, they might not. :(

  21. D M 2015-12-02 22:54

    We may shed a tear, (or two), when our children badly scrape their knees. And as adults, we quickly run to help our children – we get antibacterial ointments to help clean those scrapes, and bandaids to help cover/heal those wounds. We keep an eye on how those wounds are healing…showing our children how much we care for them and that we can sympathize with the pain that they’ve endured. We ourselves have felt the pains of scraped knees and elbows; we know how badly it hurts. Our children’s pain: we feel; it hurts us to see them hurt. We want to help them.
    Those scrapes that they and we have endured, however, are nothing when we realize that animals are skinned alive for their fur and skin. They die their deaths through this fashion-driven, barbaric inhumane act. As we hold our children closely, there is no way in which we can justifiably say “it’s okay to do this to animals…as long as those animals aren’t our children.” It’s impermissible. We can’t allow this. And if ANY adult thinks otherwise, I hope they ask their own children first…what does their child think of this? Would their child do this to an animal?
    I believe that their children will say no…no way is this okay. And in that case, I hope the adult listens to and follows the advice of the child.

  22. Scott Slocum 2015-12-03 12:07

    I’m sure the legal situation is complicated, but as I understand it USFWS permits are required to keep endangered or threatened species in captivity. Here’s an excerpt from a USFWS FAQ:

    “A person registered with the FWS may obtain a captive-bred wildlife permit to buy and sell within the United States live, non-native endangered or threatened animals that were captive born in the United States for enhancement of species propagation, provided the other person in the transaction is registered for the same species. A separate permit is needed to import or export such species.”

    All I know is what I’ve read so far, but I haven’t found a loophole that waives the required permits for any of the trivial reasons that have been mentioned in comments here (e.g. “ownership” of the animal, or number of generations of the animals in captive breeding).

  23. BIll DIthmer 2015-12-04 07:46

    Scott, FWS is controlled by the USDA. The situation you talk about “is” for indangered species, however if these people have a legetament three generation pedigree, those animals are no longer considered either wild or indangered. Those people didnt catch those animals from the wild they paid money for that guaranted three generation ped.

    Like I’ve told you before, unless you are willing to wade through the USDA reg book you will never find the protections that lagitament license holders have.

    If FWS had a case, these people would already be tried and convicted, thats just the way rhey roll. They cant, not because of FWS permits rules. Iolations, but because of the protections that their USDA license gives them.

    The Blindman

  24. larry kurtz 2015-12-04 07:57

    FWS is in Interior.

  25. Bill Dithmer 2015-12-04 09:12

    Your absolutely right Larry, but the USDA controls all domesticated and licensed animals. If you get papers in regards to your USDA license, it very plainly has USDA at the top of the page not THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.

    As far as I can tell those lowlife bottom feeding scum sucking terrorists from ALDF dont even have a standing in a case unless they can prove in some way that they own the animals in question. That three generation pedigree pretty much rules that out.

    I told you people before there is a simple and legal way to deal with these wolf people but you keep refusing to do your research.

    The Blindman

  26. TM 2015-12-04 12:16

    This is awful. Almost as bad as bucket feeding little baby animals whose Mother had abandoned them. Letting them graze in fenced in areas. Feeding them to fatten them up. Then selling them so people can butcher them, make leather jackets, belts, billfolds and so on. OH….we do that with livestock. These people obviously run a legitimate business or it would have been shut down by authorities long ago.

  27. Scott Slocum 2015-12-04 13:17

    Of course, readers here aren’t “willing to wade through the USDA reg book,” and without references to the rules someone finds relevant, without legal interpretations of those rules re. the ESA, etc. readers here don’t have reason to accept anyone’s conclusions here that there’s no case against “Fur-Ever Wild” under the ESA. To the contrary, I think we can look forward to hearing how the ALDF arguments develop. Obviously, they’re not going to bring a court case if they don’t have to, or if they don’t judge this to be a model case that could serve as a practical legal precedent. Cases like that are expensive, and no one wants to waste any energy on a rare case that’s not likely to come up often, or for which other remedies (e.g. local ordinances and public-safety laws) are already available.

  28. Scott Slocum 2015-12-04 15:56

    With a permit, you can keep a pelt. MN DNR gives permits to take road-killed game animals, and to transfer pelts to educational organizations. I’ve heard of them transferring road-killed and federally-killed wolf pelts to educational organizations for educational purposes. I assume it would be illegal for the educational organization to transfer the pelt without another permit.

    So in this case, I guess Fur-Ever Wild could get a permit to keep a pelt for educational purposes by their organization–but not to sell (which is what they seem to want).

  29. DoNotFeed 2015-12-10 08:39

    The idea of “if she was doing anything wrong, she would have been shut down by now” sounds reasonable, but not real life.” She has been embroiled in legal action for years. From Federal laws/acts, down to the local ordinances. The city was sued because they were not enforcing their own ordinances. The city then issued her a resolution to cease. She continues to operate. The city is now suing her to cease but she continues. I have read every single piece of paper of the three lawsuits and one state appeal, including a very telling deposition. It is fact, she breeds, exhibits the animals for fees, feeds them crap (patrons can buy food from her to fed them), then once they get their “prime coats,” she pelts and parts them. Go on ebay and look for wolf teeth or nails. An it is not just wolves, she pelts cougars, foxes (by the hundreds) fishers, bobcats, rabbits, skunks, and even prairie dogs. ALDF has to give 60 days notice according law (for those of you that wanted immediate action. A Bill is circulating in Washington to not allow stupid people to own big cats.

  30. Scott Slocum 2015-12-10 14:30

    The bill that “DoNotFeed” referred to is H.R. 3546: The Big Cat Public Safety Act. Apparently, it clarifies parts of the Lacey Act that specify which people and organizations are allowed to possess, allow public contact with, breed, or engage in commerce in “any live species of lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar or any hybrid of such species.” Apparently, other parts of the Lacey Act specify prohibitions and allowances like this for other species of wildlife that are taken illegally.

  31. Red 2015-12-18 08:18

    @Joann Larson,

    Aha. I did not realize that Petter was operating Fur-Ever Wild both as a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization. Now that sounds like an interesting lead for anyone who wants to pursue legal action–Petter can’t have her cake and eat it too, at least not as far as I know.

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