An attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of authorities and fleece perspective clients has resulted in guilty pleas.

In information released by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a Vaughn, Montana man has entered a guilty plea to federal charges that remind us of what could be the premise of a really bad science fiction movie. He now faces the consequences of a nearly 10-year effort to create giant sheep hybrids intended for sale to shooting preserves or game ranches.

80-year-old Arthur Schubarth owns and operates Sun River Enterprises LLC, a livestock ranch near Vaughn. Or, in this case, "alternate livestock."  He conspired with others to create a larger hybrid species of sheep that would command higher prices.


Mr. Schubarth illegally brought parts of the largest sheep in the world from Kyrgyzstan. The average male Marco Polo sheep can weigh more than 300 pounds with horns that span more than five feet. Marco Polo are native to the high elevations of Central Asia, and prohibited in Montana to protect native sheep from diseases.

Schubarth sent genetic material from those parts to a lab to create cloned embryos, which were then implanted into ewes on his ranch. The result? A male Marco Pole he named the "Montana Mountain King."


Practically everything the guy did violates something. But the biggest umbrella under which the actions fall is the Lacey Act, which "prohibits interstate trade in wildlife that has been acquired or sold in violation of federal or state law. The Lacey Act also prohibits the interstate sale of wildlife that has been falsely labeled."

The Lacey Act is one of the mainstays in combating wildlife trafficking.

For each felony count - there are two - Mr. Schubarth faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Sentencing is set for July 11 in a Montana court.

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