Giant Hybrid Sheep’ Created on Montana Ranch Could Bring Prison Time for 80-year-old Breeder

Giant Hybrid Sheep’ Created on Montana Ranch Could Bring Prison Time for 80-year-old Breeder

“Those who object to what is described in this article should remember that genetic manipulation of wild deer is commonplace, as is genetic manipulation of plants and domestic animals.


NOTE: this article was originally published to on March, 2023. It was written by Jonathan Limehouse.


Arthur ‘Jack’ Schubarth, an 80-year-old rancher from Montana, pleaded guilty to creating giant hybrid Marco polo sheep and selling them at high prices



An 80-year-old Montana rancher pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday for creating “giant hybrid sheep” he and his five co-conspirators would sell to hunting preserves for exorbitant prices, authorities said.

Arthur “Jack” Schubarth admitted to conspiring to violate the Lacey Act and substantively violating the Lacey Act while owning and operating under Sun River Enterprises LLC, according to court documents filed in the District of Montana. He committed crimes at Schubarth Ranch, a 215-acre alternative livestock ranch in Vaughn, Montana, records show.

From 2013 to 2021, Schubarth sold mountain sheep, mountain goats and various ungulates primarily to captive hunting facilities, the Justice Department said Tuesday in a news release.

The rancher illegally brought parts of the endangered Marco Polo argali sheep, one of the largest sheep species in the world weighing 300 pounds or more, to the U.S. from the Asian country Kyrgyzstan, court records show.

“Argali sheep are trophy hunted due to their large size and unique long spiraling horns,” according to court documents. “… Argali horns are the largest of any wild sheep.”

Polo argali, natives to the high elevations of the Pamir region of Central Asia, “are prohibited in the State of Montana to protect native sheep from disease and hybridization,” the Justice Department said.

Argali sheep have a market value of over $350 per animal, according to court documents.

Click here to see an image of this animal -> 

How did Schubarth create the giant hybrid sheep?

To create the hybrid sheep, Schubarth sent genetic material from the argali parts to a third-party lab to generate cloned embryos, according to the Justice Department. He paid a $4,200 deposit for the cloning, according to court records.

The rancher and his co-conspirators then used artificial breeding procedures to implant the 165 cloned Marco Polo embryos into female sheep on Schubarth Ranch, court records show.

Schubarth’s process would result in a single pure genetic male Marco Polo argali named “Montana Mountain King” or “MMK,” the Justice Department said. The rancher then used MMK’s semen to artificially impregnate other female sheep that were illegally possessed in Montana to create “hybrid animals,” according to federal authorities.

Schubarth’s and his co-conspirator’s goal was to “create a larger and more valuable species of sheep to sell to captive hunting facilities, primarily in Texas,” the Justice Department said.

Schubarth illegally sold sheep across the US, DOJ says

Moving the sheep in and out of Montana meant Schubarth and others had to forge veterinary inspection certificates and lying about how the sheep were legally permitted animals, according to court documents. The rancher would also sell MMK’s semen directly to sheep breeders in other U.S. states, the documents continued.

In addition to argali sheep, Schubarth illegally bought genetic material from wild-hunted Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Montana, court records show. He violated Montana law by purchasing parts of the wild-hunted sheep and selling them. He also sold big horn parts in different states, federal authorities 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 DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in the 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.”

Schubarth is facing a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for each felony count, the Justice Department said. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.

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