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Lizards Hold Up Railway Construction in Germany

The reptiles must be relocated before it continues.

A sand lizard, ready to fight development.
A sand lizard, ready to fight development. Max Pixel/CC0

The Stuttgart 21 railway project is billed as the city’s transport future—a 35-mile track and tunnel extension that will connect citizens to the rest of of Germany, as well as Europe at large. But not everyone sees it that way. Concerns over the project’s high cost and environmental impacts have led to near-constant protests, including a 2010 demonstration against tree felling, during which police injured over 100 protesters with tear gas and water cannons.

Now, anti-Stuttgart 21 activists have found some scaly, highly effective comrades: two species of lizard, whose very presence in the railway’s vicinity is enough to delay construction, and to drive up costs even further.

“Thousands of sand and wall lizards have been found along the route of the project,” the Guardian reports. The two species are protected in Europe, and in order to move forward with the project, Stuttgart 21’s developers are legally required to get them out of the way.

Human protesters demonstrating against Stuttgart 21 in September 2010.
Human protesters demonstrating against Stuttgart 21 in September 2010. Rae Bo/CC BY-SA 3.0

While the lizards will not be sacrificed to the railway, they will be displaced. “Experts are being brought in to catch them in nets,” the Guardian reports, and they will be resettled in Untertürkheim, about six miles away.

The cost of this setback is estimated to add up to about 15 million Euros—between 2,000 and 4,000 per lizard—and the relocation will have to wait until the end of spring, when the breeding season is over. Next time you find yourself caught in an infrastructural dispute, better hope the sexy lizards are on your side.

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