animals & pet care

Quebec, Canada’s Vanessa Rondeau admits selling polar bear skulls

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Vanessa Rondeau, 27, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada pleaded guilty to trafficking in protected wildlife before United States District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on January 28, 2022. Her sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on June 9, 2022 before the same judge.

On January 13, 2020, Rondeau agreed to sell a polar bear skull for $780 to someone via online communications. Unbeknownst to her, the person she was communicating with was an undercover special agent working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

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On January 24, 2020, Rondeau entered the U.S. at the port of entry in Champlain, New York, USA with the polar bear skull, which is in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). She proceeded to a third-party shipping business to send the polar bear skull to the FWS special agent in Amherst, New York and the agent received the package on February 2, 2020.

On January 26, 2021, Rondeau communicated again with the agent and agreed to sell another polar bear skull for $584.11. On February 11, 2021, the agent received a Canada Post package from her.

Moreover, Rondeau illegally trafficked in other protected wildlife by shipping or bringing wildlife from Canada to the U.S. without being declared to the FWS. The total value of the wildlife she illegally trafficked was approximately $37,204.

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The lead federal agencies for implementing ESA are the FWS and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service. The worldwide list of endangered species maintained by the FWS includes birds, insects, crustaceans, mammals, reptiles, fish, grasses, flowers and trees.

Enacted by the 93rd U.S. Congress, the ESA became effective on December 27, 1973. The law prohibits the import, export, interstate and foreign commerce of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife.

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