FAIRBANKS - The wandering alpaca that was found dead in late September had been shot, according to Fairbanks borough officials.
Entrance and exit wounds were found on the carcass, indicating the bullet went through the animal, said Jeanne Olson, manager of the Fairbanks North Star Borough animal shelter.
The alpaca died on the Chena Dome Trail 60 miles east of Fairbanks. It was found dead Sept. 25, the day before volunteers were planning to take other alpacas and llamas to the area in order to lure the timid animal down the trail so it could be caught.
"I am sorry to report this because it certainly reveals the dark side of humanity," Olson said.
Shooting the alpaca was not an unlawful act, Olson said.
"It's not illegal," she said, "but that animal was not feral, and I know it was not attacking anybody."
Hikers on the trail first spotted the alpaca, a smaller, South American cousin to the llama, on Labor Day Weekend.
The alpaca's owner, whose name has not been released, reportedly left the animal there in August after it was being used to pack gear, became stubborn and refused to continue down the trail. Alpacas are not traditionally used as pack animals.
The alpaca was living on lichen and low-growing brush along the trail.
"He was well fleshed," Olson said. "He wasn't starving out there."
The owner could be charged with domestic animal abandonment.