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2 men charged with killing 3,600 birds, including eagles, in the Mission Valley

A federal indictment accuses Simon Paul and Travis John Branson of trafficking federally protected birds from 2015 through 2021.
Eagles
Posted at 11:15 AM, Dec 13, 2023

MISSOULA — Two men are facing felony charges for killing thousands of birds including bald and golden eagles in and around the Flathead Indian Reservation and then selling their parts on the black market.

The federal indictment accuses Simon Paul and Travis John Branson of trafficking the federally protected birds from 2015 through 2021.

Prosecutors claim the men killed 3,600 birds total including the eagles.

Federal law protects bald and golden eagles, making it illegal to kill, transport or offer them for sale.

The men are accused of working together, sometimes shooting the birds and sometimes luring them with roadkill.

They would then sell the birds, their tail feathers, and wings for significant sums of money.

Court papers claim Simon Paul lived near Ronan and was a ‘shooter’ or ‘shipper’ of bald and golden eagles for Branson.

They would work together to harvest, clean, and ship the birds to buyers across the country.

They face charges from conspiracy to unlawful trafficking to violating the Lacey Act that prohibits the trafficking of unlawfully taken wildlife.

They are scheduled for an arraignment in federal court in Missoula in January of 2024.

Click here to read the court documents associated with the case (pdf).