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Tags: bald eagle | golden eagle | killed | federal charges

2 Men Charged In 'Killing Spree' of Bald, Golden Eagles

By    |   Friday, 15 December 2023 04:04 PM EST

Two men accused of illegally killing and trafficking approximately 3,600 birds, including bald and golden eagles, have been charged by federal prosecutors in Montana.

Simon Paul, 42, of St. Ignatius, Montana; and Travis John Branson, 48, of Cusick, Washington, face 13 counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles and one count each of conspiracy and violating wildlife trafficking laws. They were indicted Dec. 7, according to court documents and face arraignment Jan. 8 at U.S. District Court in Missoula, Montana.

They are accused of violating the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trafficking of illegally taken wildlife.

Violations of the eagle trafficking statute carry a year in prison upon conviction, but subsequent violations carry two-year prison penalties, the Daily Montanan reported. The conspiracy and Lacey Act violation counts carry penalties of five years in prison for each, and fines.

The indictment claims the men worked with others to hunt and kill the birds on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation, and in at least one instance used a dead deer to lure in an eagle that was shot. The defendants conspired with others, who weren't named, to sell eagle feathers, tails, wings, and other parts for “significant sums of cash” across the U.S. and elsewhere.

The indictment said law enforcement uncovered text messages from Branson and others describing the illegal taking of eagles by stating, "Out committing felonies," and telling buyers he was "on a killing spree" to obtain eagle tail feathers for future sales.

Court documents did not list attorneys for the defendants.

Bald eagles are a national symbol in the U.S. and bald and golden eagles are considered sacred by Native American tribes.

Bald eagles were an endangered species in the 20th century, in large part because of the pesticide DDT, but rebounded under federal protections and were removed from the endangered list in 2007. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated in 2020 there were 316,000 individual bald eagles in the lower 48 states and Hawaii, including 71,400 nesting pairs.

There are an estimated 30,000 bald eagles in Alaska, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said there are about 40,000 golden eagles in the lower 48 states, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Two men accused of illegally killing and trafficking approximately 3,600 birds, including bald and golden eagles, have been charged by federal prosecutors in Montana. Simon Paul, 42, of St. Ignatius, Montana, and Travis John Branson, 48, of Cusick, Washington, face 13 counts ...
bald eagle, golden eagle, killed, federal charges
381
2023-04-15
Friday, 15 December 2023 04:04 PM
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