Animal rights groups sue fur farm over gray wolves

Published 10:27 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LAKEVILLE — Two animal rights groups have filed a lawsuit alleging that a fur farm and petting zoo near Minneapolis is breeding, neglecting and killing gray wolves.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center filed the lawsuit on Sept. 29 against Teresa Petter, who owns Fur-Ever Wild in Lakeville, the Star Tribune reported.

They allege that Petter is breaking federal law by breeding gray wolf puppies as a petting zoo attraction and that she kills wolves that get too old and sells their fur.

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Petter denied the accusations Tuesday, saying the allegations in the lawsuit “are absolutely whacked.”

“I don’t even know how people can have that much imagination,” she said.

Petter said she’s not violating the Endangered Species Act because her animals are wolf-dog hybrids, excluding them from federal law that protects gray wolves. She also said the fur she uses only comes from wolves that die naturally or are euthanized for aggression.

The groups contend that Petter previously claimed her animals were full-blooded wolves. They say she also made similar claims in government documents, on her website and on signs around her property.

“My observations confirmed that they were in fact gray wolves and not hybrids of any kind,” said Matthew Simmons, director of operations at Lockwood, of his visit to the farm last fall. “I based this observation on my 10 years of experience handling wolves and wolf-dogs on a regular basis.”

The groups also claim that the “broad purpose” of the federal protection is to save wolf-dog hybrids as well as pure-blood wolves.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring Petter from keeping wolves. A hearing on the injunction request hasn’t been scheduled.