Every now and then a story crosses my PC that makes me shake my head in wonder. This is one of those tales that sounds like fake news, but it's true.

I work with a terrific meteorologist named Sam Ryan, who personally witnessed something absolutely bizarre at a dog park in Eden Prairie, southwest of Minneapolis. Sam was walking his dog when he encountered a coyote puppy running around, off-leash. According to Ryan, the owner was a younger guy, smoking a cigarette and wearing a black hoodie with a low-hanging baseball cap. When asked about his "pet" the man smiled and said, "Yep. 100% pure coyote." The coyote was reportedly playing quite well with other dogs who were doing more sniffing than usual....they were curious.

Ryan told me that he moved away, to the other end of the park. He then called park rangers at Three Rivers Park to report the coyote, just in case there was a future incident. At first, they said they would send out animal control. Ryan stopped them and repeated over his phone, "The coyote is someone's pet, and it's playing with the other dogs in the park." The lady on the other end of the phone was shocked.

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"You don't look like you're from around here". Credit: Sam Ryan
"You don't look like you're from around here". Credit: Sam Ryan

Another officer called Ryan back. He said he checked and there are no state laws against having a coyote as a pet. But are there any rules at the dog park? Ryan asked. He was confused and stumbled and then said, "We've never in the history of the park had a call like this and therefore couldn't think of any rule on what animal you can actually bring to the dog park." He said they would be looking into it.

It is illegal to have a pet that is a crossbreed of a dog with a coyote, wolf, dingo or jackal. But there doesn't appear to be a Minnesota state law against having a pet coyote. I know, crazy huh?

If anyone asks, you probably can have a pet coyote, but do NOT keep a pet beaver, walleye or minnow. Minnesota statutes clearly state you can't have these "regulated animals" as pets:

minnesota pet laws
In Minnesota, it is illegal to have these animals as pets. (click to enlarge)

Wait, I don't have the freedom to have a pet antelope or muskrat? Apparently not.

Sam Ryan is still dazed by what he witnessed, and he believes things could have easily gotten out of hand.

"People enjoyed taking photos and petting the coyote," he said. One potential problem: people sometimes bring their kids and other smaller animals." Ryan spoke to a friend who is a vet via text and here is the exact text: "Not a good idea - the coyote will have K9 teeth twice the length of domestic and a coyote surrounded by domestic dogs could be attacked and killed by domestic dogs in a pack." Yikes.

Note to self: leave your pet coyote at home or at least have it on a leash.

That said, my pet tarantula is relieved.

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

Gallery Credit: Elena Kadvany