The Swiss city fighting over cowbells

Some residents have complained about the noise at night, but there are those who are more on their defense: This is not the first time the town has discussed this issue.

Aarwangen is a municipality of about 4,700 inhabitants located in the Emmental-Upper Aargau district, approximately halfway between Bern and Basel. Located along the Aare River, it has a medieval castle and everything you can imagine in a typical Swiss landscape, from green meadows to snow-capped mountains in the distance to cow pastures. Only cows They have become a problem As for some of the new residents, or at least their bells: two families have filed an official complaint with the municipality asking farmers to take them away at night because they are so noisy, which has sparked a certain controversy.

Nowadays, bells are no longer as necessary as they were in the past because cows are equipped with a microchip that helps determine their location, so there are those who no longer use them for a long time. However, along with the animals that wear them, they remain a symbol of Swiss tradition, as well as one of the objects most closely associated with the country and, above all, still viewed with a certain affection. That’s why the request to remove them created a file debate About traditions in Arwangen, where many families have moved in recent years from abroad or from other regions of Switzerland, attracted by the fact of being able to live in a more peaceful context, but also being able to reach Bern, Basel and Zurich in less than an hour by car.

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Arwangen Mayor Niklaus Lundsgaard-Hansen said the farmer involved in the complaints took it as a “personal insult to him and his cows.” However, historic residents and local farmers – who are only five or six years old – have organized a signature collection and a public petition to ensure the cows continue to keep their bells, with the aim of “protecting and preserving the traditions of the place”. According to Andreas Baumann, one of the residents I interviewed BBC NewsAnyone who says they are bothered by noise “has a very romantic view of rural life” and should go and live somewhere else.

Within a few days, the petition had gathered more than a thousand signatures, and in December residents will meet for a final vote on the issue. However, speaking to public radio SRF, Lundsgaard Hansen said that one of the spouses had withdrawn their complaint, while the other intended to leave.

As the site mentioned swissinfo.ch, This is not the first time It is in Switzerland that the noise of cowbells is discussed. In 1975, the Federal Court, the highest legal authority in the country, imposed a ban on grazing animals with bells at night in residential areas, but in 2018 it ruled in favor of a farmer who claimed that the bells during grazing were part of a local tradition. . In 2019, the municipality of Bauma, near Zurich, decided that the bells could not be considered nuisance sounds, and therefore residents could not file complaints about them. However, in 2021, a court in the canton of Aargau ruled that it was not correct to exclude them from the rules on nighttime noise, forcing one farmer in the area to remove the bells from his cows by 10pm.

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second BBC News However, the story of the bells has to do with the fact that Swiss people tend to have a protective attitude towards their traditions. To give you an idea, the goal of the center Democratic Union Party, the right-wing, nationalist-conservative party that won the federal election two weeks ago, is to “Switzerland remains Switzerland». Thanks to the high standard of living and good job opportunities it provides, the country has attracted more and more foreigners, with the result that today a quarter of the country’s population is non-Swiss. People from elsewhere have also recently moved to Aarwangen, and are “less familiar with the rural way of life,” Lundsgaard-Hansen says.

– Read also: French law for the protection of sounds and smells of the countryside

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