Inside This Issue:

  • Of Giant Hybrid Sheep and Wildlife Trafficking Schemes
  • Battle for Control of Nevada Wildlife Commission Continues
  • Rescue Owners Arrested for Alleged Animal Cruelty
  • The Biggest Factor in Dog Bites? People.

Of Giant Hybrid Sheep and Wildlife Trafficking Schemes

A man from Montana has been found guilty of violating the Lacey Act, the law that combats the trafficking of illegally harvested wildlife, fish, and plants. In a plan that took years to mastermind and carry through, the owner of Schubarth Ranch concocted a scheme to breed hybrid sheep for captive hunts on game ranches. It isn’t illegal to breed animals for that purpose, but it is illegal to breed or use the DNA of endangered species. In an attempt to make more money from the hunts, Mr. Schubarth came back to Montana with undeclared parts from a rare sheep called the Marco Polo argali. This sheep is protected under CITES and ESA.

Now here is where the story shifts from just a regular wildlife trafficking case to the stuff of sci-fi movies. DNA extracted from the argali body parts were used to make cloned embryos which were then implanted into Schubarth Ranch ewes. This created a genetically pure male they named Montana Mountain King, that was used to breed giant hybrid sheep that they wanted to become a hot ticket item in Texas hunting ranches. Not only was the creation of the argali ram illegal, all of the different hybrids created at their Montana ranch were also illegal to own in the state. In addition to that, Schubarth also traded in Big Horn Sheep parts within the state of Montana, and those activities are also illegal. Federal and state wildlife authorities explained that his actions could negatively impact native wildlife in Montana and in the US. Sentencing will be this July. Mr. Schubarth is facing a potential 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine along with 3 years supervised release. 

Montana Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Wildlife Trafficking Charges as Part of Yearslong Effort to Create Giant Hybrid Sheep for Captive Hunting

★     Hundreds of eggs, 53 primates, 660 pounds of ivory among items seized in global wildlife trafficking operation
★     6 Bizarre Animal Smuggling Busts


Battle for Control of Nevada Wildlife Commission Continues

Spot the coyote.

The state of Nevada established their Wildlife Commission to address regional wildlife and environmental concerns. They are the governing body of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, composed of a 9 member board. Chosen from backgrounds like sportsmen, ranchers, farmers and conservationists, the board meets to implement policy or regulations and review budgets. They receive information from 17 different County Advisory Boards divided into committees, each with their own unique needs for their natural resources.

Last week the Commission came under fire from critics who feel it is unable to make unbiased decisions due to the professions and hobbies of the people on its board. Efforts to change the composition started in 2021 with a bill to add two more seats on the Commission, but that did not pass. Lobbyists from HSUS are still pushing the Commission to change its makeup, adding members who aren’t sportsmen or ranchers. Of course, it is important to seek the input of as many experts as possible, but is it wise or helpful to take suggestions from groups who seek to fundamentally change the nature of the Wildlife Commission and your way of life? There's allowing for diverse opinions, but there is also being open-minded to the point of letting a cat babysit a canary.

Unfortunately, the Wildlife Commission doesn’t seem to be skilled in the public relations department, and HSUS’ lobbyist has been able to use this and public attitudes (keeping in mind the smaller number of people who hunt, fish, or ranch each year) as an opening to paint HSUS as the “sensible moderates” in this argument. When you're letting them call themselves the "center" because they haven't called for a ban on hunting (yet), you're in for some trouble.

Is Nevada’s Wildlife Commission on the brink of extinction?

★     Ranchers Play Key Role In Saving Greater Yellowstone's Wildlife Pathways
★     Decline in Hunting Threatens Conservation Funding



Rescue Owners Arrested for Alleged Animal Cruelty

The founders of a well-known California rescue, SBC Pet-A-Palooza Rescue, were arrested for alleged animal cruelty last week after being raided by authorities. The current count is 13 dogs and 96 cats – 31 of the cats deceased.

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario of people keeping more animals than they have the time and resources to care for. Though, as this case demonstrates, the stakes are higher and recovery efforts much more difficult when dealing with over 10 dogs and nearly 100 cats than, say, somebody who is simply keeping a few too many pets.
Disturbing here is not just the condition and number of animals, but also that residents who have adopted animals from the rescue are coming forward with experiences of surprise post-adoption medical costs and deception. For example, a cat with an improperly healed broken hip which required surgery, and a dog that was described as being great with kids and other dogs that was actually, in the words of his adopter, “afraid of the world.”

Given the number of animals and the conditions they lived in, it is quite possible there was no deliberate deception on the part of the rescue, but this still speaks to the need for oversight, even for non-profits that are “just trying to do the right thing.” Because regardless of intent, this is bad for animals, and bad for the people who adopt them. 

Animal rescue owners feel catfished, devastated after large neglect investigation in Hollister

★     SBC Pet-A-Palooza founders arrested for alleged animal cruelty
★     Owner of ‘Just Dogs Rescue’ in Tipton officially charged with animal neglect


The Biggest Factor in Dog Bites? People.

Kids love hugging dogs... dogs often feel differently. 

The people in a dog’s life play the largest role – by far – in ensuring it has the best chance for good outcomes. Setting clear boundaries to make sure a dog doesn’t get itself into trouble is a big part of this. For example, walking Max on leash and having a fenced yard reduces the chances of him running away, getting lost, being attacked by another dog, or hit by a car. Making sure temptations are picked up and locked away means Luna has a smaller chance of ingesting poisons, chicken bones, chocolates, and your favorite leather shoes. Talk about an ounce of prevention: this saves so much trouble for everybody!

But what about behaviors like lunging and biting? On one hand, this seems almost too obvious to bring up. Of course nobody wants their dog acting aggressively toward neighbors or other dogs. This is pet ownership 101. But aggression is something far too many dog owners minimize and make excuses for. And we shouldn't, because when a dog bites, lives can be changed forever.

With that in mind – spurred by April’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week – we’ll be posting a lot about dog bites through the next month. And, in the spirit of giving dogs the best chance for a good outcome, we’ll be going over what we can do to prevent bites from happening. The article we linked to here, by Steve Dale, covers a lot of the basics. One tip he covers is that we don’t simply ask a dog owner “Can I pet her?” but rather, make sure the dog is OK with being touched, too! This is likely something a lot of us already do instinctually – if you’re around enough dogs, you pick up on basic canine body language – but do you remember it being brought up specifically as part of your “doggie introductory training” when you were a kid? Likely not, though it no doubt will be something your kids are taught!

Human behavior can help prevent dog bites

★     Fear Free: Ideas to Lower Dog Bites
★     AVMA: Dog bite prevention




Also in the News...

★     ‘Disrespectful:’ Animal rights group concerned over FWACC’s number of animals being euthanized (Shelter & Rescue Issues; Euthanasias; Humane Infighting)
★     Bumblebees Can Learn Complex Tasks through Social Interaction, New Study Says (Eat Like a Butterfly, Learn Like a Bee)
★     Agencies sign MOU on civil enforcement of Animal Welfare Act
 (AWA Agreement & Enforcement)
★     Cicadas pee in jet streams like bigger animals (Information that Might Actually Make You Less Intelligent)
★     Dallas Zoo hosting solar eclipse viewing event, inviting public to witness animal reactions (Zoos, Public Events)
★     Nearly 200 dogs found at Putnam County residence; Animal Control asks for help with adoptions (When Pet Care Spirals Seriously Out of Control)
★     Why Animals at the WI Humane Society Have Unique Names (What's in a Name? Fun... And Better Odds of Adoption)
★     Titanosaurs—The Biggest Land Animals in Earth’s History—Thrived by Combining Reptilian and Mammalian Traits (Your Weekly Does of Dinosaur News)

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