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Quebec woman sentenced for selling protected wildlife skulls

Vanessa Rondeau has been sentenced to time served and one year supervised release for trafficking in protected wildlife.
Credit: barbraford - stock.adobe.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A 27-year-old woman from Montreal, Quebec has been sentenced to time served and one year supervised release for trafficking in protected wildlife.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York announced Thursday that Vanessa Rondeau will also have to "pay restitution totaling $1,364 to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and a $40,000 criminal fine."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, said that Rondeau agreed to sell a polar bear skull to an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Special Agent in January 2020 for $780. The sale was made online.

On Jan. 24, 2020, Rondeau entered the U.S. at Champlain with a polar bear skull, which is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Rondeau then shipped the skull to the agent in Amherst, who received it in early February.  

A few days after Rondeau shipped the first skull, she contacted the agent to see if he would like to buy another polar bear skull for $584.11. The second skull received by the agent was a Canada Post package labeled "1 cadre," which is French for "frame."

Prosecutors say Rondeau also trafficked other protected wildlife by shipping and/or bringing them from Canada to the U.S. without declaring it to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It's estimated that Rondeau brought in approximately $37,024 worth of illegally trafficked wildlife.

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