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HomeNewsAlleged Eagle Killing Spree Discovered: Two Men Indicted for Black Market Sales

Alleged Eagle Killing Spree Discovered: Two Men Indicted for Black Market Sales

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There are several protected birds in America and other countries worldwide. These birds are protected by laws prohibiting people from hunting, killing, or selling them on the market.

The Bald Eagle
Source: Pinterest

Guilty parties usually face court sanctions such as fines or even prison time. Regardless of these measures, some still go to extreme lengths to get their hands on such protected birds.

A grand jury has indicted two men for allegedly going on a “killing spree” of federally protected eagles and selling them on the black market. The two men, Simon Paul and Travis John Branson, were found guilty on multiple charges. The charges include one count of conspiracy and 13 counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Federal prosecutors had text messages as part of their evidence. In the texts, he admitted to “committing felonies” and informed buyers that he was ‘on a killing spree’ to get eagle tail feathers for more buyers in the future.

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According to the indictment, Branson traveled from Washington state to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. He eventually met up with Paul, who would “help kill, transport, and ship bald and golden eagles for future sales on the black market.”

Furthermore, documents show that Paul assumed the roles of a ‘shooter’ and ‘shipper’ of bald and golden eagles for his partner Branson. The court papers emphasized the symbolic importance of the bald eagle. It stated it is a bird of biological interest and “this country’s national symbol, reflecting America’s ideals of freedom.”

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Also, the indictment alleged that the defendants killed approximately 3,600 birds, including eagles. The duo illegally sold them on the black market for significant sums of cash across the United States and other countries. According to government sources, the illegal activities transpired between January 2019 and March 2021.

However, the indictment did not specify how many of the 3,600 birds the defendants killed were protected. Last Wednesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Missoula declined to provide further information on the case. Regardless, it is already certain that the defendants had carried out several criminal activities over the years.

Many Americans believe that the black market trade of these protected birds is surprisingly thriving because some people act as enablers. Some people with money want to add some of these birds to an absurd private collection. There are also others who seek out parts of these birds, such as their feathers, for cultural or spiritual purposes.

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As of now, the defendants, who have not been arrested, are ordered to appear in court on January 8, 2024. Despite multiple attempts, Branson and Paul did not respond to NBC News requests for comment on Wednesday. So, for now, there’s no way to hear their version of the events for which they are being indicted.

If convicted, the top conspiracy count could lead to a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the defendants. The case has sent shockwaves through communities, raising concerns about the illegal trade in protected wildlife and the need for stricter enforcement to safeguard the nation’s symbols of freedom.

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