Cockerel in legal case to test France’s new law to protect rural heritage

A rooster named Pitikok is set to test the limits of France's new law to protect the country's 'rural heritage'. 

Cockerel in legal case to test France's new law to protect rural heritage
Illustration photo by XAVIER LEOTY / AFP

A neighbour in south west France, fed up with the bird’s crowing, has taken the owner to court.

But she could be spared a penalty under new legislation protecting the “sensory heritage” of the countryside, from noisy church bells to the smell of farmyard animals.

The rooster’s owner in the village of Oursbelille, 150 kilometres southwest of Toulouse, has faced repeated complaints and is set to appear in court in June.

“It all started in 2019. The owner of the house next door – who comes only twice a year on vacation – (he) came to see me and demand that I get rid of my rooster,” said the owner, who asked to remain anonymous.

Attempts to find a compromise failed, she told AFP, “because the only solution Monsieur proposed was that we get rid of our animal.

“That’s out of the question.”

The case recalls a series of recent disputes pitting villagers with small farms against other residents, often newcomers or vacationers in search of rural tranquillity.

READ ALSO 10 things to expect if you move to rural France

In another bird-based battle that made headlines worldwide, Maurice the rooster and his owner emerged victorious from a legal wrangle with neighbours in September 2019, with judges rejecting claims of disturbing the peace.

But such disputes have been known to become violent. Tens of thousands of people signed a petition in August 2020 seeking justice for Marcel, a rooster shot and killed by a neighbour in Vinzieux, southern France.

Such incidents spurred lawmakers to enact the rural heritage law in January 2021, enshrining the status of countryside staples such as quacking ducks and pre-dawn tractors, as well as cowbells and the smell of cow dung.

“Once again we’re dealing with recent arrivals who come to the countryside and cannot stand, or barely, these natural sounds,” said Stephane Jaffrain, the lawyer for Pitikok’s owner.

The neighbour, a pensioner, claims it is a straightforward case of “excessive disturbance by a neighbour,” and is seeking €6,000 in damages at a trial set for June 7th.

“It’s causing genuine suffering for my client,” lawyer Anne Bacarat said. “He’s battling cancer and has heart problems and tinnitus,” or ringing in the ears.

Member comments

  1. as a uk farmer i understand and have experienced the problem,however, in the uk we do not have a law
    protecting rural life much the pity.perhaps people from towns should stay there. the countryside is a
    dynamic and living environment that needs to work to survive. it is rarely the paradise that people think
    it is they who need to adjust not the countryside.

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France charges teen over ‘imminent terror attack’ plot

French authorities have charged an 18-year-old man on suspicion of planning an imminent terror attack with a knife in the name of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

France charges teen over 'imminent terror attack' plot

Initial investigations indicated that he planned to carry out a terror attack “in the name of IS, to which he had pledged allegiance,” said the source, who asked not to be named, adding that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The source added that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The man, from a Muslim family, had adopted extremist views and was considered a threat, sparking France’s anti-terror prosecutors office (PNAT) to open an investigation on May 19, a source close to the case said.

Police arrested him on Friday and a video of him swearing allegiance to IS was found in his possession.

The source did not say whom he was planning to target in the attack or in which location.

France saw a wave of jihadist attacks from 2015 that left hundreds dead and pushed the country to its highest level of security alert.

There has been no repeat of a mass atrocity in the last years, but there have been several deadly attacks carried out by lone individuals

More to follow