‘Dr Frankenstein’ shepherd cloned embryos to breed ‘giant hybrid sheep’ to sell for hunting

By Staff

Montana rancher Arthur ‘Jack’ Schubarth, 80, admitted to illegally breeding ‘giant’ hybrid sheep using tissue and testicles from wild sheep to sell them to private hunting preserves in Texas

A rancher has admitted to an audacious plan of creating ‘giant’ hybrid sheep by illicitly using tissue and testicles from wild sheep hunted across Asia and the US, court documents reveal.

Arthur ‘Jack’ Schubarth, 80, from Vaughn, Montana, pleaded guilty to felony charges of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy. His brazen scheme involved breeding colossal sheep hybrids for sale to private hunting preserves in Texas, prosecutors claim.

According to court documents, Schubarth and his accomplices began this secret project in 2013. Their goal was to create “giant sheep hybrids” by crossing different species in order to sell them at high prices to hunting reserves where wealthy individuals pay to hunt captive trophy animals.

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The sly rancher sourced biological tissue from a hunter who bagged a wild sheep in Kyrgyzstan, specifically a Marco Polo argali sheep, the world’s largest of its kind. From this tissue, Schubarth allegedly obtained cloned embryos, which were implanted into an ewe, resulting in a pure Marco Polo argali sheep, aptly named “Montana Mountain King.”

Schubarth reportedly went on to artificially inseminate other ewes with semen from Montana Mountain King, birthing larger and more valuable breeds of sheep. One such offspring was reportedly sold for a hefty sum of $10,000 (£7,850) to buyers in Texas.

Argali sheep, with males weighing over 300 pounds and horns stretching up to 5 feet long, are highly coveted among hunters. However, they’re protected under international conventions and banned from import into Montana due to disease and hybridisation concerns.

Schubarth allegedly received 74 ewes of a prohibited sheep species from Minnesota to his ranch, where they were artificially inseminated with semen from Montana Mountain King. Offspring with diluted genetics were sold for lesser amounts.

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Adding to the illicit saga, Schubarth allegedly paid a hunting guide $400 (£314) for testicles from a trophy-sized Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep killed in Montana. From these testicles, he extracted semen to breed large bighorn sheep and hybrids with the argali species.

Assistant US Attorney General Todd Kim branded Schubarth’s actions as “an audacious scheme,” violating wildlife trafficking laws and falsely labelling wildlife for sale. Under a plea deal, Schubarth agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, sparing him further charges.

Montana Mountain King is now under the custody of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Schubarth must quarantine any sheep containing Marco Polo argali genetics. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, where Schubarth faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 (£196,000) fine.

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