KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol‘s motto is, “To Serve and Protect the People of Tennessee.” As 6 News viewers found out in January 2023, that motto literally applies to all state residents whether they are human, bear, pig or in this case – bird.

By now, many of you have seen the video of a State Trooper coming to the aid of an owl along a stretch of Boyd’s Creek Highway in Sevier County. The trooper, approaching cautiously, even talking to the bird, eventually is able to get the bird to fly away on its own.

We’re now learning that the trooper, is Officer Cody Crouser.

“I go out and noticed he had been hit by a vehicle. He was missing an eye, and just kind of stunned,” says Crouser. “I was just talking to him. And kind of hesitant because I didn’t know if he was going to lunge at me or not.”

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For Crouser, this type of encounter is not that uncommon. Prior to joining the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Oregon native was a member of that state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“I love the outdoors. I love animals. That’s kind of my passion,” says Crouser. “So, to get that mixed in with this. You never know what you’re going to do as a road trooper.”

In this case, it was a situation that had he not reacted, could have been bad for both the bird and motorists.

“There are two points for me to make contact with it. One, it was an object in a roadway. We look out for those all the time. And the safety of the owl. I mean, I have the heart for that. So, to make sure he got out of there safely, that was a big deal to me.”