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Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes reacts to illegal taking of eagles on Flathead Reservation 

Posted at 2:32 PM, Dec 14, 2023

PABLO — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) has released a statement in reaction to recent federal charges filed against two men who are accused of illegally taking eagles on the Flathead Reservation.

CSKT Fish and Game Conservation officers initiated the investigation and worked with federal and state agencies on the multi-year investigation that resulted in the charges that were filed Thursday, December 7, 2023, a news release states.

Tribal officials explained that since bald and golden eagles are federally protected species, CSKT relied on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conclude the investigation and process the crimes through the federal judicial system.

“Such a massive toll on the Flathead Reservation’s raptor population is hard to quantify,” said CSKT Tribal Council Chairman Tom McDonald. “These are magnificent birds of prey that are of such tremendous significance to our Tribes. Eagles are not only a treasured and important part of the Reservation’s ecosystem, they have a profound place in CSKT cultural and spiritual practices.”

Simon Paul and Travis John Branson are facing several charges with tribal officials saying such crimes won't be tolerated on the Flathead Reservation.

“It is good to finally see federal charges,” said McDonald. “The CSKT will continue to monitor this case, and we remain ready to provide support to the federal agents and prosecutors where needed.”

The federal indictment says the alleged conspiracy between Paul and Branson to kill and traffic the birds happened between January 2015 and March 2021, and was centered near Ronan.