A troubling facility in Minnesota that bizarrely operates as both a petting zoo and fur farm is now facing legal action for killing federally protected gray wolves.
Fur-Ever Wild in Lakeville invites visitors to play with wolf pups, but what many people may or may not realize is that once they get too big they’re killed and skinned for their fur and other parts.
Not only is that twisted, but it’s also illegal. Gray wolves are federally protected, which makes it illegal to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct,” or to sell their parts in interstate commerce.
This facility, which now has a menagerie of animals, has unfortunately faced years of legal trouble for violating local ordinances related to keeping wild animals. Numerous complaints about the treatment of animals at Fur-Ever Wild and the threats they pose to public safety have also been made.
In 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) filed a lawsuit arguing that Fur-Ever Wild’s killing of federally protected gray wolves violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and that the facility failed to adequately care for the animals before they were killed.
They ultimately hoped to get the court to stop Fur-Ever Wild from killing wolves, and to surrender them to a sanctuary.
Last year, a temporary restraining order saved wolves from being killed by preventing its owner, Teresa Petter, from causing the death of animals “with any gray wolf lineage” under her “ownership, possession, custody, care or control,” with an exception for humane euthanasia. Meanwhile, a state court order stopped Fur-Ever Wild from owning more than one wolf at a time.
While Petter had argued that the wolves she owns were wolf-dog hybrids, which exempted her from the ESA, fortunately that argument isn’t going to get her off the hook.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota just ruled that not only do the ALDF and LARC have standing to sue, but also that even if wolves have dog genes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that federal protection doesn’t extend to them.
The case will now move forward, and it will hopefully bring an end to the exploitation and killing of gray wolves for a profit. In the meantime, this case should also help raise awareness about the trouble with roadside zoos and other facilities that allow the public to interact with young wild animals. These creatures should be with their mothers, not getting handled by multiple people for nothing more than the sake of a selfie.
For more on how to help animals being kept in roadside attractions like this one, check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
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