The Animal Legal Defense Fund has threatened to sue a private wildlife operation in Minnesota, alleging that its owner kills and skins federally protected gray wolves and sells the pelts for profit.
Fur-Ever Wild, located on 100 acres in Eureka Township, Minnesota, charges visitors to get up close not only with wolves but also cougars, bobcats, otters, beavers, lynx, fishers, martens, and badgers.
ALDF will take Fur-Ever Wild to court in 60 days unless Petter agrees not to kill and skin gray wolves, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as threatened in Minnesota.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the taking of any endangered or threatened species, defining “take” to mean “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.” The law, which applies equally to wild and captive animals, allows private parties to file suit to enforce its provisions.
“Fur-Ever Wild’s wildlife exhibition and fur-harvesting business exploits wolf pups by first using them as an attraction in the company’s petting zoo, then later skinning them for their fur,” Jennifer Robbins, an attorney representing ALDF, wrote in the notice.
“There is broad public support to stop their continual taking of wolves that visitors pay to see…and for whom they donate money or materials believing they are supporting the maintenance of this threatened species,” she wrote in the notice, which was also sent to the Interior Department, which enforces the ESA.
“We got involved in the summer of 2015 after activists notified us of her operations,” said ALDF staff attorney Christopher Berry. “Evidence that we submitted shows that she has skinned wolves in the past.”
Reached by phone, Petter told TakePart, “I am not commenting.” When asked why, she replied, “Because someone already burned down one of our buildings.” Asked if the alleged arson was related to the skinning of wolves, Petter said, “Have a nice day” and hung up.
Public records indicate that Fur-Ever Wild has indeed slaughtered wolves for their pelts.
Several license applications Fur-Ever Wild filed with the state “depict the calculated breeding program of protected wolves as the company aimed to acquire a wolf population that could generate consistent replacements for those animals to be killed and skinned for fur,” according to the ALDF notice.