A Northern California man, Jason Keith Bruce, 49, and the CEO of a Pakistani hunting outfitter and guide company, Pir Danish Ali, 43, were indicted last week on smuggling charges for violating the Endangered Species Act. The charges followed an investigation that began on March 29, 2018, when Bruce attempted to pass through customs at San Francisco Airport (SFO) with eight game trophies in his personal luggage.
The Justice Department said that both men were aware they would need to engage in bribery and fraud to smuggle the animal remains into the US. They prepared forged documents that impersonated Pakistani authorities. Bruce, who resides in Sacramento, allegedly killed a Ladakh urial in Pakistan, a species with a local population of fewer than 200 animals, and attempted to transport the body back into the US by declaring it a different species.
The Ladakh urial, listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, is an endangered wild sheep native to Central and South Asia. Its population and distribution range have declined in recent decades due to illegal hunting and habitat degradation caused by increasing livestock population and extraction of wood, fodder, and medicinal plants, according to a 2016 report by the Zoological Society of Pakistan. The report states that the species had previously co-existed with the predominantly Buddhist Society of Ladakh, but the growing human and livestock populations have put immense pressure on its habitat.
If you're wildlife spotting in Ladakh, you may chance upon the impressive Ladakhi urial grazing on the banks of the Indus. In Bandipur, you may spot a ruddy mongoose. Beyond the big five, wildlifers speak of other sightings to look for across India.https://t.co/eSh279nuhh pic.twitter.com/GwflgNZUBb— NatGeoTravellerIndia (@NGTIndia) February 24, 2022
Pir was paid $50,000 to arrange the hunt, prosecutors said. Further investigation revealed that at least 25 people associated with Pir’s big game hunting outfitter company presented forged documents to import at least 97 hunting trophies into the US between 2013 and 2018, according to the Justice Department.
If convicted, both men face prison time and multiple fines. For the conspiracy charges, they could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If Bruce is found guilty of smuggling and convicted of violating the Endangered Species Act, he could face an additional 21-year prison sentence and up to $300,000 in fines.