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Man to plead guilty in 'killing spree' of eagles and other birds for feathers prized by tribes

A Washington state man accused of helping kill more than 3,000 birds - including eagles on a Montana Indian reservation - then illegally selling their carcasses and feathers intends to plead guilty to illegal wildlife trafficking and other criminal charges, court documents show.

Federal prosecutors say Travis John Branson and others killed about 3,600 birds during a yearslong "killing spree" on the Flathead Indian Reservation and elsewhere. Feathers and other parts of eagles and other birds are highly prized among many Native American tribes for use in sacred ceremonies and during powwows.

Branson of Cusick, Washington, will plead guilty under an agreement with prosecutors to reduced charges including conspiracy, wildlife trafficking and two counts of unlawful trafficking of eagles, according to court documents filed Tuesday. The documents did not detail how many birds he will admit to killing.


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