These majestic Ladakh urial wild sheep are highly endangered, and some Sacramento-area big game hunter was indicted by the feds for allegedly killing and smuggling eight of them through SFO with forged papers claiming they were some other species.
Today I learned that it is actually legal to bring dead animal carcasses through international customs at San Francisco International Airport. But it is not legal to bring the carcasses of endangered species that you hunted illegally through customs, and it is even more not-legal to bribe Pakistani officials to hunt and kill endangered species, and then lie to American customs agents with forged Pakistani government documents which claim that the carcass is some other completely non-endangered animal. And that is what allegedly happened to a Sacramento-area big game hunter when was arrested and indicted by the feds last week for the above-described scheme, as the Chronicle reports.
JUST IN: A big game hunter allegedly flew from Pakistan to the San Francisco International Airport with eight animal carcasses in his luggage, including an endangered Ladakh urial sheep, federal prosecutors said in an indictment. https://t.co/CRyya3cTx4— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) March 31, 2023
According to a U.S. Attorney's Office indictment announcement, the game hunter who was arrested was 49-year-old Jason Keith Bruce, of Galt, California, which is a small city in Sacramento County. The alleged carcass smuggling also place in March 2018, and Bruce was allegedly in cahoots with a Pakistani hunting guide named Pir Danish Ali, whose alleged specialty is helping hunters kill endangered species and then forging documents to make it all look legal. In this case, the animal was an endangered Ladakh urial wild sheep.
Ladakh Urial (Shapo)....an endemic wild sheep. pic.twitter.com/Z3EYLqVFOA— Stanzin Phandy (@Stanzin98) June 20, 2020
According to the federal charging document, which refers to the carcass as a “trophy,” “The defendants agreed that the export of the Ladakh urial trophy would be achieved through bribery and fraud by declaring it to Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a different species and presenting forged documents purporting to be issued by Pakistani authorities. Bruce paid Pir $50,000 for the hunt, during which he shot a Ladakh urial.”
Why would anyone want to kill such a magnificent (and endangered) animal as a Ladakh urial???— Hondo Resists ☮️ 💔🌻🇺🇦🌻 (@HondoResists) March 30, 2023
Sick! #endangered #BanTrophyHunting
California man charged with smuggling body of endangered sheep through SFOhttps://t.co/ZcoZ4glrck pic.twitter.com/HWaFZgpZaE
“On March 29, 2018, Bruce flew into San Francisco International Airport from Pakistan carrying eight trophies in his personal baggage, including the Ladakh urial trophy. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents stopped him and alerted the FWS,” the statement continues. “After the FWS seized the trophy, Pir and Bruce conspired together to lie and did in fact lie to the FWS agents.”
Wildlife Trust of India conducted a six-month study into #poaching in Ladakh and found that, driven by demand for meat and horns, blue sheep, Asiatic ibex and Ladakh urial are the most commonly poached. Read to know more https://t.co/43kAuiqLZi pic.twitter.com/IMyfTFFzOR— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) June 27, 2020
That tipped the feds to start looking into Pir’s big-game hunting operation, where they found he’d allegedly been pulling such schemes for quite some time. ”Further investigation revealed that, between 2013 and 2018, at least 25 hunters who had hunted with Pir’s company presented forged documents to import at least 97 hunting trophies into the United States,” the charging statement says.
If found guilty, both men face a possible five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But since Bruce is accused of doing the actual lying and presenting of forged documents to customs agents, he’s looking at a possible 20 more years on top of that.
Image: Altaipanther via Wikimedia Commons