Monster Sheep Hunting Farm Shut Down By The Government

By April Ryder | Published

A press release from the U.S. Department of Justice reported today that a Montana ranch owner has pled guilty to two felony wildlife crimes – conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and violating the Lacey Act – as a part of a much broader scheme, lasting nearly a decade, to create giant sheep hybrids with plans to sell the new hybrids to various captive hunting facilities within the United States. 

Montana Cattle Ranch

Arthur “Jack” Schubarth, of Vaughn, Montana, owns and operates Schubarth Ranch as part of Sun River Enterprises LLC. The ranch consists of more than 200 acres and focuses its efforts on raising and selling “alternative livestock.” Mountain sheep, mountain goats, and other ungulates are included in this category. 

Hybrid Sheep

Between 2013 and 2021, Schubarth and at least five other people conspired to create a new, larger hybrid species of sheep in hopes of making more money when selling the animals to various shooting preserves nationwide.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, shooting preserves or game ranches are places where game or trophy hunters go to hunt and kill animals restricted to a certain area via a fence. Some of the animals on these game ranches are rather tame and were even hand-raised by humans. 

Imported Sheep Genetic Material

Schubarth and his coconspirators illegally brought various sheep parts into the United States without declaring them. The parts were from the Marco Polo Argali sheep, which is known as the largest sheep in the world, from Kyrgyzstan (a small country in central Asia that borders China). 

Marco Polo Argali Sheep

Marco Polo Argali sheep can grow up to more than 300 pounds and have horns that can span more than five feet wide. They’re massive, to say the least. These giants are native to the higher elevations of the Pamir region in Central Asia. They are a revered and protected species around the globe. 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species offers the animals protection internationally, and the U.S. Endangered Species Act protects the Marco Polo Argali sheep domestically. Furthermore, the sheep are specifically prohibited in the state of Montana in an attempt to guard the local sheep species from outside diseases and hybridization. 

Self-Made Argali Sheep

Instead of directly importing a whole Argali sheep, Schubarth took genetic material from the sheep parts he acquired and sent them to a lab where they created cloned Marco Polo embryos. After implanting the embryos into a ewe on his ranch, Schubarth successfully created his own genetically pure Marco Polo Argali sheep, whom he named “Montana Mountain King.” 

The Whole Operation Was Illegal

Schubarth and his coconspirators then used the semen of Montana Mountain King to inseminate several other species of ewes (all of which were also illegal to possess in the state of Montana) to create an array of new hybrid animals. Scubarth hoped his new creations would fetch a higher price from buyers. 

More laws were broken when moving the hybrid sheep into and out of Montana. Schubarth and his partners were forging the proper veterinary inspection certificates to uphold their false claims that the species were all legally permitted. 

Montana’s Ecosystem Was Threatened

The issue with Schubarth’s god complex is clear, and Ron Howell, Chiefs of Enforcement for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) commented openly on the impact of his crimes saying, “The kind of crime we uncovered here could threaten the integrity of our wildlife species in Montana.” 

Schubarth is currently scheduled to receive his sentence on July 11th of this year. Each felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 maximum fine, and three years of supervised release once he gets out of jail. 

Source: U.S. Department of Justice