Updated Dec 13, 2023 - World

2 men charged with killing bald eagles, thousands of other birds

A bald eagle on Dec. 9 in Naples, Florida. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Two men were charged in Montana for allegedly killing 3,600 birds, including eagles, and selling them on the black market, per court documents.

Driving the news: Simon Paul of Montana and Travis John Branson of Washington were indicted last week on one count of conspiracy, 13 counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles and one count of violating the Lacey Act – a federal law that combats trafficking of illegally taken wildlife.

  • The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Montana declined to comment on a pending case.

Details: Between January 2015 to March 2021, Paul and Branson illegally shot and killed birds in the area of the Flathead Indian Reservation of Montana and elsewhere, federal prosecutors said.

  • Paul and Branson would then transport and sell the bald and golden eagles, per the prosecutors.
  • Court records state that the men sold the wings and tails of the birds, along with whole bald and golden eagles.

Of note: During the investigation, law enforcement officials found messages from Branson saying he was "out [here] committing felonies" and "on a killing spree" to obtain eagle feathers, per the indictment.

What's next: The two men are scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 8, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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