Help needed to rescue Montrose lizards when path work begins

THE NEW Angus footpath and cycleway which is due to stretch from Montrose to the North-water Viaduct is causing a headache for local conservationists.

Friends of Angus Herpetofauna (FAH) are embarking on a rescue mission to move wild lizards from the Kinnaber area of the town to areas which will be unaffected by the work.

Trevor Rose from FAH said: “There is currently a development under way just north of Montrose behind the dunes at Kinnaber, where a cycle path is being constructed across the common.

“This is an area populated by good numbers of common lizards, a species which as some of you may know, is protected against intentional killing and injuring.”

Members of the group are currently carrying out frequent checks of artificial homes which were made to attract the reptiles and any lizards found are then being moved to safer places.

The group is now looking for as many volunteers as possible to help save the lizards.

Mr Rose continued: “I have been in last-minute discussions with Angus Council and visited the site with Mark Davidson from the Engineering and Design Services division.

“We have discussed mitigation measures for the lizards which involves regularly checking artificial refugia and removing any lizards found to other parts of the common.

“It may also involve walking in front of the excavators when the time comes, to capture any remaining lizards which may or may not be fleeing from the disturbance but this activity is yet to be confirmed.”

“Unfortunately, ecological surveys were not deemed necessary before the work started so this effort, usually undertaken by professional ecologists, was not scheduled in.

“However, we now have the opportunity to at least help some of the resident lizard population before they are crushed or buried during the construction of the new cycle path.

“Many hands make light work, the more effort the better and I could really do with some volunteers, perhaps working on a rota basis, to visit the site and move the lizards out of the way.”

Once work has started on the path, which is expected to cost around £1,760 per year to maintain, the group will continue to monitor the site to capture any lizards that try to flee the construction work.

Mr Rose said: “If you think you can help, please do get back to me as soon as possible. I have yet to receive final time schedules, but this is weeks or even days away, not months.

“This work can be done during a short period in the evening.

“This may particularly suit students with an ecological interest and offer some practical experience in conservation mitigation.

“I will be on hand to coordinate and offer training as required, so please do let me know if you can help.”

Anyone who would be interested in helping move the lizards to safety can contact Mr Rose on 07778 830192.