A dispute over noisy frogs has caused uproar in eastern France – with police even being called over their croaking.
Neighbours of a 92-year-old woman in Frontenex, a village in Savoie, are fed up with ribbiting frogs in her garden. They started a petition over the “incessant” noise of the amphibians.
They say it would be “absurd” to take the issue to court, but the “permanent” croaking of the frogs is becoming too much to bear.
It is not the first case of a noisy nuisance animal – recently, similar complaints were made over a cockerel waking neighbours up with his crowing.
‘They bring life’
Colette Ferry, the nonagenarian owner of the frogs, is adamant that the frogs play an important role for her.
“I've lived alone since my husband died twenty years ago, so they're my distraction. These frogs bring life,” she told Le Dauphiné libéré. “I’ve never had a problem with my neighbours, until now.”
Despite their frustration, the complaining neighbours seem sympathetic to Ms Ferry’s situation.
“Ms Ferry is a bit hard of hearing, she is not necessarily sensitive to [the frogs’ croaking]. We don't want to go to court over this, it would be absurd," said Boumedienne Benmerrouche, her closest neighbour.
But the situation deteriorated after police were called to Ms Ferry’s property at the end of April, so the neighbours officially had a record of the noise.
“Grandma felt like a delinquent, whereas she had always led her life with exemplary uprightness,” said one of her granddaughters, saying the incident had been disturbing to the elderly woman.
Original proposals by the police of removing the frogs to a nearby lake were initially accepted, but approval of Ms Ferry was withdrawn after discussing the situation with her family.
As of now, the dispute has not been settled.
What can I do in a similar situation?
In France, there are laws over noise disturbances, covering emissions from humans, animals, and equipment.
The Public Health Code states that “no particular noise must, by its duration, repetition or intensity, be detrimental to the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood or to human health”.
Whilst there are generally permitted times for loud human activities – that you can read more about in our article on lawn mowing restrictions – with animals it can be more complicated.
A first port of call, regardless of the source of the noise, is to discuss with the person responsible, to see if they can make some adaptations (for example, change the times they are doing work, or see if they can stop their dog barking).
You can also reach out to a conciliateur de justice who will attempt to mediate the issue and come to an amicable conclusion.
If this fails, it is indeed possible to call either police officers or the gendarmerie, who can make an official note of the noise if you wish to submit a formal complaint.
Fines for noise disturbances vary, but usually are €68 – if not paid within 45 days it can increase to €180, and if a nighttime disturbance can even reach €450.
If you wish to take someone to court, it is useful to gather evidence from a huissier (bailiff) on the matter – be warned though, as our property wrap from last week showed, there are time limits to submit such complaints.