Slaughterhouse Fur-Ever Wild lives on; court rules it can keep 150 animals

Terri Petter can continue to harvest animal pelts, but she'll have to shut down her petting zoo south of Lakeville.

Terri Petter can continue to harvest animal pelts, but she'll have to shut down her petting zoo south of Lakeville.

Killing wolves, bobcats, and other animals can continue at Teri Petter's Fur-Ever Wild, the wildlife exhibit that doubles as a furrier slaughterhouse, a Dakota County court has ruled.

According to Judge Karen Asphaug's decision, Petter must immediately stop the exhibition, in which adults pay $7.50 and kids pay $5 for the chance to see wolves behind enclosures, cougars in cages, and dozens of other captive wild animals. But it stops short of requiring Petter to sell or adopt out her estimated total of 150 creatures.

It's the second part that comes as a dagger to those who have long wanted to shut down the operation. That opposition includes residents of Jersey Court, a small community situated beside Petter's 57-acre property that originally pressured government to take action. 

The ruling comes after Eureka Township sued Petter and her boyfriend Daniel Storlie. The township charged that the "outdoor educational facility" flouts an exotic animals ordinance. The rule prohibits owning the likes of wolves, bobcats, and cougars.

In seeking the injunction, Eureka wanted Petter to get rid of "all her animals," attorney Chad Lemmons told City Pages in June.

That's not happening.

According to Asphaug, Fur-Ever Wild's animals can stay because the ordinance conflicts with Minnesota statute. 

State law and the Eureka ordinance both classify fur farming as a permitted agricultural enterprise. Minnesota's definition of "fur-bearing animals" extends to "protected wild animals," those second-generation creatures already in or born into captivity versus those wild caught, the court opined. 

Because Eureka's exotics rule prohibits all fur-bearing animals, whether they be fishers or wolves, Asphaug wrote, "it expressly forbids what state statute permits." By invaliding the ordinance, the judge deemed Petter's pelting business legit. 

Meanwhile, Asphaug put an end to Fur-Ever Wild's exhibition because township zoning regulations have never allowed it. 

Eureka lawyer Lemmons couldn't comment without approval from the township board. Repeated messages left yesterday for President Brian Budenski went unreturned.  

Petter initially declined comment yesterday, but then said, "I am very, very happy."

Over the weekend, she made a point of communicating that her furry charges weren't going anywhere.

The court ruling, Petter's Facebook page reads, "has given Fur-Ever Wild the right to KEEP ALL of our animals."

In previous court proceedings, Petter and Storlie have admitted to pelting thousands of animals, everything from wolves to woodchucks to foxes.  

Fur-Ever Wild's latest incarnation is that of a weekend "farm market," according to Facebook. Admission remains $7.50. Available for purchase are pumpkins, gourds, Christmas trees, "other horticultural products" — and animals.

"… [A]ll of our animals will be for sale," Petter's weekend post continues. "If you want to come look at the animals for purchasing, you are welcome to."  

If owning a wolf or cougar holds no appeal, there's always Petter's Go Fund Me campaigns.

One asks for donations so Fur-Ever Wild can defend itself against "false accusations and slander."

As of yesterday, the campaign is $19,405 shy of the $20,000 goal.