Multiple news outlets are reporting a Montana man could face prison and fines for a bizarre genetic mutation attempt to breed giant sheep.

  Man wanted to breed 300-pound sheep for hunting purposes.

Federal officials in Great Falls, in US District Court, charged 80-year-old Arthur “Jack” Schubarth of Vaughn, Montana, with felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic wildlife. He made a Tuesday appearance in court.

Officials say Schubarth used tissue and testicle parts from sheep that were shot by hunters in Asia so he could breed giant "hybrid" sheep for sale to private hunting reserves in Texas.

According to the Associated Press:

"Court documents describe a yearslong conspiracy, beginning in 2013, in which Schubarth and at least five other people sought to create “giant sheep hybrids” by cross-breeding different species. Their goal was to garner high prices from hunting preserves where people shoot captive trophy game animals for a fee."

Using biological tissue from a certain kind of sheep killed in Kyrgyzstan called Marco Polo argali sheep, Schubarth obtained cloned embryos of the animal from a lab.

Then according to the AP:

"The embryos were later implanted in a ewe, resulting in a pure Marco Polo argali sheep that Schubert named “Montana Mountain King,” the documents show. Semen from Montana Mountain King was used to artificially impregnate other ewes to create a larger and more valuable species of sheep, including one offspring that he reached an agreement to sell to two people in Texas for $10,000, according to the documents."

A person in Minnesota had shipped 74 ewes from what officials said was a prohibited sheep species to the Montana ranch to be inseminated with semen from the Montana Mountain King, but their offspring did not have all of the King's DNA and were sold for lesser amounts.

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Besides saying Schubarth attempted a fraudulent and dangerous genetic mutation of animals, officials also said he violated the Federal Lacey Act, which prohibits wildlife trafficking.  His next court appearance will be in July.


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