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Magistrate hears three hours of testimony in rooster crowing case

Posted: Mon, Nov 18, 2019 6:11 PM

Magistrate Nathan Moonen will issue a ruling in the near future in the legal battle between the City of Decorah and Linden Street resident Ralph Van Fossen, who faces one charge of disturbing the peace and one charge of keeping a bothersome animal in connection with the rooster kept at his house.

Moonen on Monday afternoon dismissed a defense motion to dismiss the charges and instead listened to testimony from both sides.

Decorah City Attorney John Anderson called to the stand both Carol and Dan Edmonson, Van Fossen's next door neighbors.  Carol Edmonson testified that after hearing the rooster crow on eight early mornings during April, "it really had an impact on my health."  "We just put up with it (the rooster crowing) until that day when it was 2:00 in the morning," she added.

City Clerk/Treasurer Wanda Hemesath, who handled the Edmonson's complaints made to the city, testified, "the crowing was a problem and it was destructive to their lives," adding, "that would have bothered me, too."

But several neighbors of Van Fossen testified that they couldn't hear the rooster and that they weren't bothered by any crowing.  Van Fossen testified that he took steps to help the Edmonsons, including putting a fence in the front yard and putting the rooster in his basement at night.

Defense Attorney Karl Knudson, in his closing remarks, said the city's ordinance about "bothersome" animals doesn't mention roosters.  City Attorney Anderson, in his closing remarks, said Van Fossen was taken to court by the city because "he kept a rooster that crows."

Magistrate Moonen says he will issue a ruling in the near future.