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editorial

Roosters push the limit of civility in Carlisle

No one can possibly condone the poisoning of a neighbor’s pet. But officials in Carlisle should rethink whether their policy of allowing roosters in backyard enclosures may be too much for some townspeople to bear.

Frank Sargent, a 17-year veteran of the Carlisle Fire Department, faces 11 counts of malicious killing of a domestic animal, a crime that could draw a hefty fine or imprisonment. He is accused of poisoning a neighbor’s rooster and dousing hens with hornet spray after his noise complaints to police and health officials failed to bring him peace and quiet. “I couldn’t sleep,’’ Sargent reportedly told police. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”

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It appears that Sargent went way beyond the pale. But anyone who has been kept awake by the incessant barking of a dog or crowing of a rooster — night after night — can imagine his frustration. With pet noise, there has to be some sensible limit. And that limit should apply to the notoriously obstreperous male chicken.

Raising backyard chickens is a delightful activity that should be allowed in cities as well as rural areas. The small noises made by hens hardly register. The crowing of roosters is a different matter. And they aren’t even necessary for a successful coop. A dominant hen can warn the other birds of approaching predators and maintain the pecking order. But when it comes to constant, unyielding crowing, the order should be: Neighbors first, roosters second.

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