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Press Release

Quebec Woman Pleads Guilty To Selling Protected Wildlife Skulls

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Vanessa Rondeau, 27, of Montreal, Quebec, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to trafficking in protected wildlife. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that on January 13, 2020, during online communications with an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Special Agent, Rondeau agreed to sell a polar bear skull to the agent for $780 USD. On January 24, 2020, Rondeau entered the U.S. at the Champlain, NY port of entry with the polar bear skull in violation of the Endangered Species Act and proceeded to a third-party shipping business to send the polar bear skull to the agent in Amherst, NY. The agent received the package on February 2, 2020. On January 26, 2021, Rondeau again communicated with the agent and agreed to sell another polar bear skull for $584.11 USD. On February 11, 2021, the agent received a Canada Post package from Rondeau which was labeled as “1 Cadre,” which is the French word for “frame.”

Rondeau also illegally trafficked in other protected wildlife by shipping and/or bringing wildlife from Canada to the United States without being declared to the FWS. The total value of the wildlife illegally trafficked by Rondeau was approximately $37,204.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, under the direction of Ryan Noel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the USFWS-Office of Law Enforcement North-Atlantic Appalachian Region. Additional assistance was provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Vermont Offices of Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 9, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.

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Updated January 28, 2022