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

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Stettler town hall
Town approves Canada Day fireworks show, using phase two health restrictions

The funding for the fireworks show has already been allocated

Castor Evangelical Missionary Church Pastor Brent Siemens, celebrating five years in Castor, reflects on the journey that brought him to the community. Kevin J. Sabo photo
Castor pastor celebrates five years of serving the community

Brent Siemens is the pastor of Castor’s Evangelical Missionary Church

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

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

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Most Read