WAYNE, NJ – Steve Jones, a bartender at Lakeside Restaurant on Packanack Lake rescued a swan that had become entangled in fishing line and found itself trapped on the lake. The whole incident was caught on video.
The swan was first noticed on Tuesday, January 21 but it wasn’t until the next day that some customers commented that the swan hadn’t moved. Jones came on shift at 3:00pm on Wednesday, heard the comments and decided to do something about it. “Nobody else was going to go out there, so I was probably the swan’s only chance,” said Jones, a self-professed animal lover.
“They saw him pecking at his legs, and they thought he had his foot caught in the ice,” said Jones. “So, I slid out there on a couple of styrofoam rescue boards and when I got out there, I saw that he was tangled up in fishing line that went around his wing and his leg, basically hog-tying him.” Jones is an avid fisherman and recognized the line, describing it as “Thirty-pound PowerPro which is braided fishing line.”
That’s when Jones came back, pushing the long, white foam boards one at a time along the thin ice that covered the lake. Someone tossed him some scissors, and he slowly made his way back to the swan.
At first the swan was panicked by Jones approach, but the young bartender was able to calm the bird down and with a few clips of the scissors it was free.
“At that point he was extremely docile,” said Jones with a smile and an unbelieving shake of the head. “For, like, five minutes, he didn’t want to leave me. He let me pet him, and I was able to lift his wing and inspect his legs and I saw that the fishing wire hadn’t done any damage. He was just in shock.”
“I was on my way back to the shore and I knew it was up to him, whether or not he was going to make it,” said Jones. “Just before I got back to the shore, I turned and looked at him, and that’s when it took off and flew away.”
“It was just amazing,” he said, with a touch of wonder in his words. “I’ve had experience with animals but nothing like that. It was surreal.”
Several people recorded the incident and all the customers and staff at Lakeside Restaurant watched from the large bay windows behind the bar.
John Bergman, a customer that was there that day watched the drama as it unfolded. “There were a few of us at the bar discussing the swan, and we thought it was stuck in the ice,” said Bergman. “When Steve came in, he said he was going to do something about it and I didn’t think he would, but he did. He went out there, got the bird to calm down and got close enough to cut the line off the bird.”
At first, it didn’t want anything to do with him, then he was actually petting the swan!” said Bergman in disbelief. “It was pretty awesome!”