A federal judge issued an arrest warrant for a Montana man, Simon Paul, who failed to appear for an initial court appearance on charges of killing thousands of birds, including bald and golden eagles.
The indictment, unsealed last month, reveals that Paul, along with co-defendant Travis John Branson and others, engaged in the illegal killing of approximately 3,600 birds over six years beginning in 2015.
The defendants also face charges of trafficking eagle parts on the black market, contributing to an ongoing problem for U.S. wildlife officials.
Source: NBC Montana/YouTube
Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto issued an arrest warrant for Simon Paul, aged 42, from St. Ignatius, Montana, when he failed to appear at his scheduled arraignment in U.S. District Court in Missoula.
On the other hand, Travis John Branson, 48, of Cusick, Washington, pleaded not guilty and was released pending further proceedings. The charges against the two men include a combined 13 counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles, along with one count each of conspiracy and violating wildlife trafficking laws.
Prosecutors revealed that Paul and Branson collaborated with unnamed individuals to hunt and kill the eagles, employing egregious methods such as using a dead deer to lure an eagle before shooting it. Subsequently, they conspired to sell eagle feathers, tails, wings, and other parts on the black market, earning “significant sums of cash,” according to the indictment.
If convicted, Paul and Branson could face up to five years in federal prison for each conspiracy and wildlife trafficking violation. Trafficking eagles carries a penalty of up to one year in prison for a first offense and two years for subsequent offenses.
This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 10 January 2024. Image Credit: Denisa Mikesova/Shutterstock.
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