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Washington man charged with eagle poaching reaches plea deal

Golden eagle.

A Washington man who was charged earlier this year for eagle poaching on the Flathead Reservation reached a plea deal with U.S. attorneys this week.

Travis John Branson was charged with 15 criminal counts of conspiracy to poach golden and bald eagles and sell their feathers. Charging documents allege Branson and accomplices killed over 3,000 birds on and around the reservation between 2015 and 2021.

Golden and bald eagles are protected under state and federal law. Taking or transporting feathers is outlawed except for religious use by tribal members.

Through a plea agreement, Branson admitted guilt to four charges and saw the other eleven dismissed.

A Ronan man who was indicted with Branson on the same charges has yet to appear before the court.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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