In January, Arrest Warrants Were Issued In Billings For Men Accused Of Killing Thousands Of Birds, Including Eagles On The Flathead Reservation

eagle flying in montana

On January 8, 2024 the Associated Press Reported warrants were issued for St. Ignatius, Montana man Simon Paul and Cusick, Washington man, Travis Branson for charges of killing thousands of birds,  including bald and golden eagles, on the Flathead Reservation.

Branson pleaded not guilty and was released, Paul failed to appear.

The Men Were Indicted on 15 Charges In December

Eagle's head staring right into the camera

The Associated Press reports that prosecutors say it all started in 2015 and continued through 2021.  Numerous birds were killed including 13 eagles and eagle parts that were allegedly trafficked by the men.

In America, law forbids anyone from killing, wounding or even disturbing eagles, taking an eagle's nest or eagle eggs without a permit.  Even taking an eagle feather you find on the ground can be considered a crime.

Eagle flying in montana
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Travis Branson Has Taken A Plea Deal

On February 27, 2024, The Associated Press Reported Travis Branson plead guilty to illegal wildlife trafficking and other charges.  Prosecutors are alleging that Branson and others killed over 3,600 birds during a killing spree prosecutors say lasted for years.

Branson will plead guilty under an agreement to reduce charges.  Charges include two counts of unlawful trafficking of eagles, conspiracy, and wildlife trafficking. Branson is thought to have said he was "on a killing spree" to buyers when talking about gathering more eagle feathers.

Even with the plea deal, Branson could get years in prison and big fines.  He also must make complete restitution of damages, even the damages dismissed by the plea deal.

The second suspect, Simon Paul, is still at large.

2 eagles sitting in a tree in montana

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