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Montana Man Faces Warrant for Allegedly Profiting from the Killing of Bald Eagles

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Simon Paul, a Montana man accused of mass-killing wildlife, including bald eagles, for profit, was issued a warrant after missing court on Monday. Paul, along with Travis John Branson of Cusick, Wash., faces 13 counts of trafficking bald and golden eagles and violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits wildlife, fish, and plant trafficking.

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Montana Man Faces Arrest for Alleged Killing of Thousands of Birds, Including Bald Eagles, for Profit

Federal prosecutors believe 3,600 birds were killed between January 2015 and March 2021. An indictment says Paul, who lived on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation, was Branson’s “shooter” and “stripper”.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana announced on Monday that Branson pled not guilty to conspiracy, illicit trafficking of bald and golden eagles, and Lacey Act offenses at his arraignment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto released Branson pending further proceedings. The judge issued an arrest warrant for co-defendant Simon Paul when he failed to attend.

Branson and Paul are accused of killing, transporting, and shipping eagles on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Branson told customers he was “on a killing spree.” via text messages, prosecutors said.

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Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Birds: Allegations Highlight Need for Wildlife Protection Laws

The allegations against both people illuminated the unlawful trafficking of endangered birds, particularly bald and golden eagles. Wildlife traffickers face legal consequences under the Lacey Act, a vital weapon in fighting such illegal activity.

The reported multi-year bird massacre raises worries about surrounding ecosystems and wildlife populations. Both individuals trafficked eagles for profit, emphasizing the need to enforce laws protecting endangered and threatened species.

As the court proceedings go, the case highlights the persistent difficulty of preserving and protecting wildlife, especially iconic and protected species like bald eagles. Wildlife trafficking is a global concern that requires strict legal and law enforcement measures to resist and deter.

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