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

CVSE officer checking out all the trucks before the convoy, which started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre in Kitimat BC and finished at the George Little Park in Terrace BC. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat truck drivers rally together in honour of 215 bodies discovered at Kamloops Residential School

The convoy started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre and finished at the George Little Park

Northwest cancer patients in medical trials may soon have access to follow-ups closer to home. Dr. Rob Olson stands in front of a linear accelerator at the BC Cancer - Prince George centre. The machine is used to deliver SABR treatment to clinical trial patients. (Photo: supplied)
Pilot project brings access to care closer to home for Terrace cancer patients

Northwest B.C. will be the first region to partner in the international clinical trial project

Terrace River Kings’ Mason Richey celebrates a third period goal during CIHL action on Saturday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre during the 2019 season.
Senior hockey plans post-pandemic return to Terrace this fall

The Central Interior Hockey League hopes to have eight teams hit the ice

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Participants of the Indigenous-led agricultural training program pose for a photograph with the staff at Tea Creek Farm in Kitwanga. (Photo courtesy, Alex Stoney)
Indigenous-led food sovereignty program trains first cohort in Kitwanga

Tea Creek Farm trained participants from northwest B.C. First Nations

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read