Man Pleads Guilty To Illegal Effort ‘To Create Giant Hybrid Sheep,’ DOJ Says

(Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

Ilan Hulkower Contributor
Font Size:

Arthur Schubarth, an 80-year-old Montana ranch owner, pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to illegally create giant sheep for captive hunting, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release.

Schubarth dabbled and acted in a conspiracy with at least five other unnamed individuals from 2013 to 2021 to create “giant hybrid sheep” that would fetch higher prices from shooting preserves, court documents read, according to the DOJ. (RELATED: Man Charged With Smuggling Protected Turtles As Cookies)

Schubarth trafficked in numerous parts of large sheep across the world, which were protected under international treaties and U.S. laws, to create a clone of these species, the DOJ said.

The clone was a pure genetic male Marco Polo argali named Montana Mountain King, whose semen was used to create large hybrid sheep, court documents say. Schubarth and his unnamed associates forged veterinary inspection certificates that claimed the sheep were legally permitted species, and on occasion, the 80-year-old sold Montana Mountain King’s semen directly to other sheep breeders, the DOJ said.

“This was an audacious scheme to create massive hybrid sheep species to be sold and hunted as trophies,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in the press release. “In pursuit of this scheme, Schubarth violated international law and the Lacey Act, both of which protect the viability and health of native populations of animals.”

The Lacey Act of 1900 is a law that protects certain plants, animals and fish by making it illegal to import certain species without obtaining an import declaration, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Schubarth could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine totaling to $500,000 and six years of supervised release, the press release read.