A TEAM of conservationists who are striving to save a colony of common lizards in land just outside of Montrose have a race against time to move the creatures before work on a cycle path begins.
The new route is due to cut across their habitat in the Kinnaber area of the town and Friends of Angus Herpetofauna (FAH) are on a rescue mission to move the lizards well away from the path of danger.
Soon contractors will move in to clear out gorse scrub to make way for the new path.
Trevor Rose from FAH said that the lizard colony is one of only four in the county.
He said: “The lizards are so important because there are so few of them in the area and across Scotland.
“Their numbers are dropping all the time so we can’t afford to lose any.
“I’m trying to do as much as I can to get these lizards out of the way before the work begins.”
The new path will link Montrose to the Northwater viaduct via the Kinnaber area which is one of the only remaining lizard habitats in Angus.
Mr Rose noticed that work had started when storage units appeared on the Kinnaber Moor section of the path. He then contacted the road’s department at Angus Council to arrange a meeting with the engineer in charge of the cycle path project.
Upon viewing the plans Mr Rose realised that the path would be in the line of the old railway which is an area hundreds of lizards have made their home.
Common lizards are protected against intentional killing and so the local authority have been forced to accommodate the plans to move the lizards to another safe habitat.
The FAH told Angus Council that refuges should be laid out for the lizards and have offered their services to monitor the environment daily to search for lizards.
Around 40 people so far have volunteered to help move the lizards.
The council have laid refuges on a strip about 500 metres long and 10 metres wide but Mr Rose said that more needs to be done.
He said: “This is still not enough.
“The density of refugia needs to be much greater to have any chance of attracting the lizards.
“Frankly, they are also unlikely to help much in the short time allowed, as generally these roof felt tiles need to bed in to the vegetation for at least a month before they become attractive to reptiles.
“The resident lizards use the embankment as a hibernaculum and are just beginning to emerge at this time of year.
“This population is one of only four that are known to FAH in Angus and are therefore very precious and need our protection.
Anyone who would like to help should contact Mr Rose on 07778 830192.