French rooster Marcel shot for crowing, owners demand justice

Rooster, photo: Kazi Faiz Ahmed Jeem on Unsplash
Rooster, photo: Kazi Faiz Ahmed Jeem on Unsplash

More than 80,000 people signed a petition demanding justice for the French rooster Marcel. He was shot and killed by a neighbor who was fed up with his crowing.

The petition Justice for Marcel was created by Sebastien Verney, the cockerel’s owner and resident of Vinzieux, a village of 450 people in southern France. “We have been profoundly shocked by this tragedy,” Verney told AFP. “The rural way of life is increasingly under attack from behavior that is not punished.”

Verney’s neighbor has admitted to shooting the rooster. He has been charged with animal cruelty and unlawful use of a weapon, among other offenses and is due to go on trial in December.

So far, the online petition for Marcel has gathered more than 80,000 signatures. It describes the killed rooster as a proud defender of Verney’s family home, “full of love for our children and bringing joy to our home, punctuating our daily life with his crowing and his beautiful presence in the henhouse”.

It is not the first time a fight over a rooster has shocked the French. Le Coq Maurice became a symbol of the tension between rural France and encroaching urbanity in a court battle over his early-morning crowing after a retired couple with a holiday home on the island of Oleron in western France took legal action to try and silence him.

Last year, judges upheld the bird’s right to start the day with a cheery cock-a-doodle-doo (cocorico in French), in what was seen as a triumph for rural traditions.

The fight over Maurice, who died of natural causes in May, led to a draft law to be brought before parliament introducing the concept of “sensory heritage” in rural France.

It seeks to protect countryside residents from legal action over normal “sounds and smells” associated with raising chickens and cows, among other noisy animals that are an integral part of rural life.

Just last November, a French court had to issue a ruling allowing a flock of ducks residing in a backyard in the southwestern Landes region to keep quacking after complaints from neighbors.

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