BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An undercover agent in Amherst helped the Department of Justice (DOJ) convict a Canadian woman of trafficking protected wildlife. Vanessa Rondeau, 27, of Montreal allegedly agreed to sell two separate polar bear skulls to the undercover agent in 2020 and 2021.
Rondeau was sentenced to one year of supervised released and ordered to pay a $40,000 criminal fine. The DOJ announced on Thursday that she also has to pay restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for purchases made during the sting.
In one of the sales, according to the DOJ, she entered the U.S. with the skull at the Champlain port of entry, violating the Endangered Species Act. Then, she headed to a shipping business to complete the sale.
Rondeau also illegally trafficked in other protected wildlife, according to the the U.S Attorney’s Office, by shipping or bringing wildlife from Canada into the U.S. without making a declaration to the FWS. The total value of the wildlife They caught Rondeau illegally trafficking wildlife with a total value of roughly $37,204.
Alongside a hippopotamus tusk, a photo from the DOJ identifies more than a dozen other animal skulls confiscated in the case, belonging to the following animals:
- Five polar bears
- Grizzly bear
- Brown bear
- Two walruses
- Harp seal
- Gray seal
A second photo showed more than two dozen skulls or other animal parts, though they were not identified.