ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Authorities are investigating the killings of pets at Denali National Park after the animals were bought at a pet store in Fairbanks.
Park employees on a geology outing last week discovered the charred and apparently partially eaten remains of a large rodent, along with a crushed mouse and the severed head of a baby python.
The workers also found the remains of a campfire and several empty boxes from Petco, as well as a turtle that initially was believed to be dead but later revived after it was brought in from the cold outdoors. The family of a park employee adopted the turtle and named it Lucky.
Geologist Denny Capps was among those to make the discovery around a roadside pullout. He said the rodent had teeth marks. He also saw three Petco boxes, the dead mouse and a pair of bloody rubber gloves, as well as a new barbecue fork and wrappers from a bundle of campfire wood.
"That's when things took a turn for us to be realizing that someone had gone on a pet shopping spree at a box store and came to the park and started to consume them," Capps said.
Petco purchase forms identified the buyer of some of the animals as a man from Phoenix, although the zip code appeared to be from Albuquerque, N.M., and much of the writing was illegible, according to law enforcement ranger Jeff Duckett.
Duckett said a Petco sales clerk told him she remembered a man who came in Oct. 23 and bought a turtle, a medium-sized white rat and a baby python. The clerk said the buyer was a white male in his 20s with a stocky build and a shaved or close-cropped head.
The man acted cagey.
"The snake, the python —he wanted the cheapest one he could find," Duckett said. "He wanted to get it and get done and get out of there."
Duckett said possible charges include animal cruelty and setting an illegal fire.
A manager at the Petco store in Fairbanks told the Daily News he couldn't comment on the case except to say the store is cooperating with the investigation by park law-enforcement.