French judge rules 'noisy' frogs of Grignols must go

Michel and Annie Pécheras told to drain pond after nine-year legal battle with neighbour

The French courts have had their final word: Grignols’ grenouilles (frogs) must go.

The frogs of a Dordogne village have been served notice after a judge decided they make so much noise during the mating season that they are a nuisance to the neighbours.

After nine years of legal battles, Michel and Annie Pécheras have been told they have 90 days to drain the 300 sq-metre pond at their home in the village of Grignols: population 587, and get rid of the amphibians.

Environmental campaigners say some of the frogs are protected species.

Michel Pécheras says he re-excavated the historic pond that had been filled in and moved it away from his neighbours’ property 12 years ago.

He told journalists his neighbour Jean-Louis Malfione did not complain at the time and even asked who had done the work so he could create a pond on his own property.

However, in 2012 Malfione brought legal action, backed by a bailiff who claimed the noise the frogs made at certain times of the year reached 63 decibels when recorded from the open window of the neighbour’s bedroom.

In 2014 the case was first thrown out by a local court but later upheld by a Bordeaux judge. Since then it has bounced back and forth between legal jurisdictions. An appeal by environmental campaigners for the frogs to be moved before the pond was destroyed also failed.

Under threat of hefty fines and prison after a judgment this month, the Pécheras have begun emptying the pond, also home to fish and ducks and an oasis for passing wildlife including herons, deer and wild boar.

In the meantime, the environment group Société pour l’Étude et l’Aménagement de la nature dans le Sud-Ouest is appealing to the cour de cassation, the highest court in France. The Association Cistude Nature claims there are six protected species of frog in the pond.

A petition to save the grenouilles de Grignols has reached more than 91,000 signatures in two days.

It is the latest case of complaints of countryside noise to make headlines in France. Legal action has previously been taken against cocks crowing, smelly cows, cowbells and quacking ducks. There have also been complaints about the cacophony made by cicadas in Provence and pealing church bells.


Kim Willsher

The GuardianTramp

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