Good Samaritans Rescue Woodchuck From Quogue Storm Drain


Erin Lynch was arriving home from work, Leslie Kappel was shopping for groceries, and Jay Jinks was training at a local gym.

Though last Thursday, October 24, started as a typical evening in Quogue, it ended in a three-person operation to lift a 400-pound sewer grate so that Ms. Kappel could climb in and rescue a trapped marmot.

When she arrived home from work at about 4 p.m., Ms. Lynch noticed that her dog had a peculiar fixation with a storm drain in the cul-de-sac at the end of Woodland Way. She went over to see what had caught the attention of Striper, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and discovered that a woodchuck was trapped in the storm drain.

“I knew I had to do something, so I called up the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons over in Hampton Bays,” Ms. Lynch said. “They were there in, like, five, 10 minutes at the most.”

Ms. Kappel, an East Quogue resident who has been volunteering with the rescue center since April, got the call while she was at the Stop & Shop grocery store in Hampton Bays. She grabbed her friend Karen Jones to help her lift the grate and they were on their way.

However, when they arrived on Woodland Way they discovered the metal cover was too heavy for them to lift. Ms. Kappel recalls saying, jokingly, “If only we had some big strong men to help us out.”

Ms. Lynch then thought of the CrossFit Quogue gym, off Quogue Plaza Trail, just up the road and where her husband works out. She hopped in her car, took a drive up there and recruited the gym’s owner, Mr. Jinks, to help them out.

Mr. Jinks, a former paratrooper, worked out a system of ropes and helped the women pull up the grate, allowing Ms. Lynch to climb down and wrestle the critter into a plastic box to be taken back to the rescue center, all while her 20-month-old son, Zac, sat patiently in his car seat, she said.

After being cleared by the staff at the center, which is located on Montauk Highway, the animal was taken back to Woodland Way and released, Ms. Kappel said.

“This was such an amazing experience thanks to Leslie and Karen, who … spent an hour and a half saving a woodchuck,” Ms. Lynch wrote in an email, “and Jay Jinks who, without hesitation, joined in Leslie and Karen’s quest to keep the wildlife of the East End safe and well.”

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