DEADWOOD | After only 10 weeks in business, the property housing the beleaguered Fur-Ever-Wild attraction on this tourist town’s south side is up for sale and all signs indicate the action will soon close.
Contacted Tuesday morning, Fur-Ever Wild owner Terri Petter declined comment about her plans, but then claimed that previous media reports about her wildlife attraction had “been twisted and a pack of lies.”
“You’re not a conservationist, you’re not a hunter and you’re not about animal welfare,” Petter said, before declining further comment and hanging up on a Journal reporter.
Deadwood businessman Greg Vecchi, who sold Petter the 17-acre property at 305 Cliff St., on a contract for deed, said the tract had been listed with a Rapid City realtor at least two weeks ago.
“I don’t know the asking price and I don’t know if they are going to close,” Vecchi said Tuesday, before adding, “Obviously they are going to close it or move it or it wouldn’t be up for sale.”
Vecchi said he was discouraged that Petter couldn’t make a go of the business due to ongoing local opposition to the attraction featuring wolf pups and fox kits.
“My position on the whole thing is as long as she has her permits and is operating under guidelines, leave her alone,” he said.
Vecchi was referring to a new city ordinance approved July 6 that effectively limited Fur-Ever-Wild from growing by blocking the addition of new animals. The measure reportedly was the final straw for Petter, who subsequently decided to close the business, sources said.
Shari Kosel, chair and co-founder of South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together, which had fought unsuccessfully at the local and state level to prevent the business from opening last spring, said she was “dancing on the moon,” Tuesday when she learned Fur-Ever-Wild likely is closing.
“I am very happy about the news of the closing for many reasons,” Kosel said. “Number one is safety and disease for our community members. Secondly, no animal should be caged and exploited for the sole purpose of killing it for their fur. And lastly, facilities like Fur-Ever-Wild do not belong within city limits, close to children, an amusement park and a campground.”
Kosel referenced claims that the business was displaying animals that were later killed for their pelts; Petter has consistently denied that claim.
Kosel said her organization’s supporters had been monitoring activity at Fur-Ever-Wild since it opened Memorial Day weekend “and found she had minimal visitors.”
Kosel noted that on July 31, the township of Lakeville, Minn., sued Petter, her partner, Dan Storlie, and their companies seeking removal of hundreds of exotic animals from her farm there, and closure of its associated retail operation, neither of which are allowed under current agricultural zoning, according to the lawsuit.
“It was our theory all along that she planned to move these animals and her fur farm operation to Deadwood and thankfully, because of the proactive, compassionate community members, she won't be able to do so,” Kosel said.
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