French rooster owner is cock-a-hoop after winning noise battle

Paris (CNN) — A French rooster named Maurice, at risk of being silenced for good, is now free to crow to his heart’s content after a civil court ruled in his favor on Thursday.

Maurice, who lives with owner Corinne Fesseau in the village of Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, on the Isle of Oléron off the Atlantic coast, was put on trial in July after neighbors objected to his early morning crowing.

However, a court in Rochefort, western France, rejected the neighbors’ complaints of noise pollution Thursday and ordered them to pay €1,000 (about $1,100) in damages.

“I am relieved that we won this fight,” owner Fesseau told CNN. “I hope that this will advance things in communes all over France — that this case will set a jurisprudence.”

The case against Maurice made headlines across the globe and came to symbolize the polarization between rural and urban France — particularly because the neighbors who objected to his crowing are city dwellers and only visit Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron a few times a year, according to Fesseau.

A petition to save Maurice obtained almost 140,000 signatures, while several people brought roosters to the trial in July as a show of support. Maurice did not attend, Fesseau said, as she feared he might disrupt proceedings.

Christophe Sueur, mayor of Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, told CNN that Thursday’s verdict was “common sense,” adding: “I am all for preserving French traditions. The rooster cry is a French tradition that needs to be preserved.

“Throughout the world, we are failing to accept differences,” he said.

Maurice has been unusually silent since the trial started, Fesseau said. “He has been disturbed over the past few months. Lots of people have come to see him,” she explained.

She expects he’ll get his voice back now he’s been vindicated, however. “He is a rooster. Roosters have the desire to sing,” she said.

“That is the countryside. We must protect the countryside.”

Journalists Rebecca Blanchard, Sam Bradpiece and Diane Karcher-Mourgues reported from Paris while Emily Dixon wrote from London.