Montana man pleads guilty in plot to create giant clone hybrid sheep for captive hunting

A Montana man's pleaded guilty for plotting to create giant hybrid sheep for captive hunting. Arthur "Jack" Schubarth, 80, orchestrated an almost decade-long scheme to breed massive sheep trophies by smuggling genetic material from protected species and using cloning and artificial insemination techniques.

To move the illegal sheep into and out of Montana, Schubarth and his co-conspirators forged veterinary inspection certificates. "This was an audacious scheme to create massive hybrid sheep species to be sold and hunted as trophies," said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. Schubarth also illegally obtained and sold parts from wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in violation of Montana law, which prohibits the sale of game animal parts within the state and their use on alternative livestock ranches.

According to court documents, Schubarth conspired with at least five other individuals between 2013 and 2021 to illegally import parts of Marco Polo argali sheep from Kyrgyzstan, the largest sheep species in the world. He then sent the genetic material to a lab to create cloned embryos, resulting in a pure genetic male he named "Montana Mountain King" or MMK. Schubarth used MMK's semen to impregnate various prohibited sheep species, aiming to create larger and more valuable hybrids for captive hunting facilities, primarily in Texas.

For each felony count, Schubarth faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release. Schubarth is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Morris for the District of Montana.

Source: DOJ office of public affairs

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