According to an indictment posted to the Daily Montanan, two men are currently facing years in prison and fines up to $250,000 after killing 3,600 birds illegally in Montana.
The culprits are Simon Paul and Travis John Branson, who’ve been accused of poaching bald eagles and golden eagles on the Flathead Indian Reservation and more from January 2015 to March 2021, and selling them on the black market.
The indictment reads:
“During the investigation, law enforcement uncovered messages from Branson and others describing the illegal taking of eagles by stating, ‘(o)ut (here) committing felonies,’ and telling buyers he was ‘on a killing spree’ to obtain eagle tail feathers for future sales.”
The two currently face one count of conspiracy, which lands them five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, 13 counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles, which consists of one year in prison and a $15,000 fine and two years in prison and another $10,000 fine, and one count of violating the Lacey Act involving wildlife with a market of over $350, which is another five years and another $20,000 fine.
The indictment describes the sales of 13 bald and golden eagles:
“From January 2019 until March 2021, Simon Paul lived near Ronan on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and he was a ‘shooter’ and ‘shipper’ of bald and golden eagles for Travis John Branson.
When Branson arrived on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Paul would meet and help kill, transport, and ship bald and golden eagles for future sales on the black market.”
Brandon and Paul reportedly used a previously killed deer on March 13th, 2021 to lure eagles.
The outlet added:
“A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana said they could not comment further on the indictment and case. Paul and Branson were issued summons to appear in court in Missoula on Jan. 8 for arraignments.”
I’d say this is the definition of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
“When Branson arrived on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Paul would meet and help kill, transport, and ship bald & golden eagles for future sales on the black market.” 2 men indicted on allegations they killed 3,600 birds. @blairmiller: https://t.co/finsMjn6zi#mtnews#mtpol