KEESEVILLE — Kerri Lamarche heard something strange one evening when she took her children to play at a small pond near their house.
“It sounded like a newborn baby crying,” she said.
It turned out to be to be two beaver kits.
Not knowing what to do, she returned to her home with Tanner, 8, and Kye, 6, and started making calls.
“Five different people told me, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Kerri said.
She finally reached a Plattsburgh Animal Hospital employee the next day, who was able to put her in touch with Wendy Hall at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington.
“Wendy said that she’d be willing to take them,” Kerri said. “But she said, ‘You have to catch them first.’”
So that evening, Lamarche returned to the pond with Tanner, Kye, Kerri’s friend, Samantha Roberts of Peru, and her daughter, Kylie.
WADING TO THE LODGE
The children stayed on the grassy area while their mothers waded through the muck on the edge of the pond to get to the beaver lodge.
“These guys were like our eyes. When we were on the other side of the pond, they were yelling at us, telling us where they (the kits) were,” Kerri said of Tanner, Kye and Kylie.
Samantha and Kerri worked for more than three hours trying to capture both the little beavers.
“We were knee deep,” Kerri said.
One kit came out of the water and up onto the bank of the pond.
Kerri caught that one with her net, but the other swam into the lodge and wouldn’t come out.
They had planned to meet Hall to give her the kits at a set time, and as that time drew nearer, everyone got more and more anxious, Kerri said.
“I think it was Tanner that said we weren’t leaving until we got the other one,” Kerri said.
Luckily, Samantha was standing near the lodge, holding her net ready, and when the kit emerged, it swam right into the net, Kerri said.
“It was kind of amazing.”
They put that beaver in the cage with its sibling and drove to Pray’s Family Farms in Keeseville to hand them over to Hall.
Hall told Kerri that the starving beavers were about 5 weeks old.
Unfortunately, Justine died about a week later. Hall told Kerri that pneumonia was common in young beavers.
Hall called the surviving kit Jose.
Kylie, 12, had already named the beavers Justin and Justine after pop singer Justin Bieber.
“We put the names together, so now everyone calls him Justin Jose.”
Kerri spoke with neighbors in a effort to find out what happened to Justin Jose and Justine’s parents. One neighbor told Kerri she had come across the bodies of two adult beavers while walking her dog.
“Somebody shot the parents,” Kerri said.
The only way beavers can be legally killed is during trapping season or under a nuisance permit, said David Winchell, regional citizen participation specialist for Zone 5 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
In the Adirondacks, the trapping season runs November through early April.
Killing wildlife illegally carries a maximum possible penalty is $250 in fines and 15 days in jail for each offense, Winchell said.
When Hall first got Justin Jose, he was malnourished, covered with ticks and very sick.
Now the 2-month old kit spends a good portion of his afternoons eating sweet potatoes.
“He’s great. He’s beautiful,” Hall said.
She isn’t actually sure if Justin Jose is a male, since it is hard to determine a kit’s gender.
Hall is working to find Justin Jose a wildlife rehabilitation center where he can stay until he is 1 or 2 years old.
“It’s very difficult to rehabilitate them,” Hall said. “They’re very complicated animals.”
Orphaned beavers younger than 1 should not be released into the wild because they will become too territorial, Hall said.
If anyone comes upon a wild animal that is believed to be abandoned, Hall recommends calling DEC and asking for a rehabilitator.
Each species has a very specialized diet and routine that cannot be replicated by people who are untrained.
‘NOT EVERY DAY’
The children won’t soon forget the experience.
“It was fun,” Kylie said.
“It’s not every day you get to save a beaver,” Kylie said.
“I have something to remember it for,” Tanner said.
He brought the small log that one of the beavers had chewed on to school to show his class.
Tanner loves animals and seems to have a knack for caring for animals other than beavers, too. He won first place in novice showmanship at the Clinton County Fair for his handling of the Lamarches’ Silky chicken Fuzzy.
Kerri and Samantha lead their children’s 4-H Club, Keeseville Cozy Creatures, and on Aug. 17, the seven-member group will make a trip to the refuge center and present it with a donation they are now collecting.
“They’ve got their whole group interested in these beavers,” Kerri said.
HOW TO HELP
To donate to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center, a nonprofit organization that operates solely on donations, call Wendy at 855-WOLFMAN or 946-2428 or email steve@