Man to Plead Guilty to Eagle ‘Killing Spree’

Robert Chao /
Robert Chao /

As you know, killing eagles, particularly Bald and Golden Eagles, is a federal crime. And yet, there are still some out there who see these magnificent birds as nothing more than a paycheck.

Such is the case for Travis Branson of Washington state.

Branson, along with several others, have recently been arrested for their participation in a ‘bird trafficking’ ring that has supposedly killed off nearly 4,000 endangered birds, including the national bird.

If you weren’t aware, the feathers and various body parts of these birds of prey are particularly important to Native American tribe members who use them for several ritual ceremonies. So these “bird trafficking” rings have been killing off birds and selling their parts to Native Americans willing to take part in the injustices.

According to the Associated Press, Branson will plead guilty to multiple counts of wildlife trafficking, including conspiracy and two counts of unlawful trafficking of eagles.

The outlet noted that most of the “killing spree” took place on the Flathead Indian Reservation and surrounding areas, where the jurisdiction for such a case is a bit of a mess, particularly for those tribal members who may or may not have encouraged the kills and bought the bird parts.

Simon Paul of St. Ignatius, Montana, is also suspected of being part of the trafficking ring and has been charged as much. However, after failing to show up to initial court hearings and believed to be on the run.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the consequences of just violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act can result in an individual fine of up to $100,000 or an organized group fine of $200,000. Imprisonment of up to one year is also on the table.

Now, of course, it’s up to “prosecutorial discretion” whether or not Branson or Paul will receive such punishment.

Should they have the book thrown at them or not?