5 Flares 5 Flares ×Fred Kowal, a truck driver hauling debris Thursday near the Meadowlands stopped to assist a pair of swans that had wandered onto the highway. One seemed to be injured. The injured bird and its apparent mate were in danger and Kowal, an animal lover and former bird owner himself, took matters into his own hands.
Fearing the birds, who sometimes were wandering into traffic would be hit, he tried unsuccessfully to usher them under the guardrail and off the roadway. At one point, he tr4ied coaxing them with pieces of his lunch sandwich but the birds were not interested.
Fred, an employee of Nicoletti Disposal of Ridgefield Park noticed what officials thought to be the female swan sitting on the shoulder between exits 16W and 15W of the turnpike. The Palisades Park man pulled over on the shoulder of the west bound spur to see what he could do to help.
The second bird believed to be a male and the mate of the injured swan stood protectively over her. While she could stand, Kowal observed cuts on her leg and webbed foot. When he tried to herd them under the guardrail, the mail darted into traffic forcing cars to slow or stop in an effort to avoid hitting it.
At that point, an official from the New Jersey Turnpike happened by and saw what was happening. He stopped to assist. Several more unsuccessful attempts occurred before state police closed the southbound lanes of the turnpike. Then Kowal, the turnpike official and another trucker who had stopped used a broom from Kowal’s truck to hold the birds against the guardrail and push them under it. They then shooed them on towards the nearby marsh.
Concerned they would return, Kowal followed the pair of swans for a while to make sure they stayed off the highway. When asked why he stopped the husband and father of three said he currently owned a cat and has owned parakeets before. He simply loves animals and didn’t want to see the beautiful birds hurt or killed.