Vanessa Rondeau, owner of the Montreal Old Cavern Boutique was alleged to be in possession of “numerous undeclared wildlife items” when she attempted to cross the border at Highgate Springs, Vermont on Wednesday, May 25. (Facebook/Old Cavern Boutique)

Vanessa Rondeau, owner of the Montreal Old Cavern Boutique was alleged to be in possession of “numerous undeclared wildlife items” when she attempted to cross the border at Highgate Springs, Vermont on Wednesday, May 25. (Facebook/Old Cavern Boutique)

Canadian woman arrested at U.S. border with three-toed sloth, crocodile parts

Shop owner Vanessa Rondeau also tried to bring a human skull ‘with mounted butterflies’ back into Canada, court documents say

A Montreal woman has been arrested on charges of trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada with “numerous undeclared wildlife items,” including a three-toed sloth, 18 crocodile skulls and heads and seven crocodile feet, according to documents filed in federal court in Vermont.

Both sloth and crocodile are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Bennington Banner reported Friday.

Vanessa Rondeau, the owner of The Old Cavern Boutique in Montreal, also was alleged to be in possession of two horseshoe crabs, 30 sea stars, 23 racoon feet, eight African antelope horns, one human skull “with mounted butterflies,” four pufferfish and six shark jaws on Wednesday when she attempted to cross the border at Highgate Springs, Vermont, according to the criminal complaint.

All wildlife must be declared to the Fish and Wildlife Service upon import into the United States and prior to its export from the United States, under the Endangered Species Act.

An email was sent to Rondeau’s public defender seeking comment.

Rondeau entered the U.S. 18 times between November 2018 and September 2019, mostly at the Champlain, New York, port of entry, including a dozen times between midnight and 2 a.m.., Ryan Bessey, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote in an affidavit.

Working undercover Bessey asked Rondeau in a private message in January 2020 if she had any polar bear skulls for sale, the affidavit states. Rondeau offered to sell a skull for $780 and Bessey received it in the mail, he said. Bessey bought another polar bear skull from Rondeau for $711, he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had also intercepted packages she sent containing skulls from a bird, a weasel, a bat and the skin from a Hartmann’s zebra, another protected species, the affidavit states.

The Old Cavern Boutique “offers for sale a variety of unique curiosity and oddity items, many composed in whole or in part from wildlife,” Bessey wrote.

The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking of items that come from endangered species.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

border agency

Just Posted

The Williams Lake Stampede Association will crown a new queen, and potentially a princess, during the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty coronation on Saturday, June 26. Vying for the title are Miss Williams Lake Lions Kennady Dyck (from left), Miss Peterson Contracting Ltd. Karena Sokolan and Miss MH King Excavating Bayley Cail. (Photos submitted)
New Williams Lake Stampede Queen to be crowned June 26

“It was jump in right away all the way,” Wessels said of getting the program up and running

As the province moves to lift some COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Williams Lake will be opening up its city council meetings to the public, beginning June 22. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Public attendance on the agenda once again for Williams Lake city council meetings

Residents will be permitted to attend meetings in person beginning June 22

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake high school teacher valedictorian for TRU virtual graduation ceremonies

Jonathan Harding is graduating with a master of education degree

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read