Man pleads guilty to eagle 'killing spree'


A US man accused of killing thousands of protected birds has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hunt and traffic Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles.

Travis John Branson, 48, shot the birds over several years and sold their parts and feathers on the black market. In text messages sent to a buyer, he bragged about "committing felonies" and going "on a killing spree".

He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on 31 July in federal court. He faces fines of around $250,000 (£195,000).

Travis John Branson has been found guilty of killing thousands of birds, including eagles (Steve Bell).


Illegal killings

On Wednesday 20 March, Branson pleaded guilty to conspiracy, illegal trafficking of Bald and Golden Eagles, and violations of a law that prohibits inter-state trafficking in illegally possessed wildlife.

Simon Paul and Travis John Branson were indicted by a federal grand jury in Montana last year on one count of conspiracy, multiple counts of unlawful trafficking of Bald and Golden Eagles and one count of violating the Lacey Act, an American law which prohibits trafficking of unlawfully taken wildlife.

Between 2015 and 2021, Branson would travel from his home in Washington state to western Montana for the illegal hunt. He worked with accomplice Paul to kill about 3,600 birds on the Flathead Indian Reservation and elsewhere, say investigators.

Mr Paul, 42, is wanted on the same charges.