Council breaks down $611k cost to relocate Christchurch's gravel pit lizards

Special live traps were made to catch lizards and relocate them from a city council work site. ...
Special live traps were made to catch lizards and relocate them from a city council work site. Photo: Newsline
Christchurch City Council has disclosed a breakdown of the more than half a million dollars of ratepayer money used to relocate endangered lizards from a work site.

City council contractors had to spend the money relocating the lizards after they were discovered in an area where they were working towards converting an old gravel pit into a stormwater basin, linking two headwaters together and creating a green corridor.

All of New Zealand’s lizards are both endangered and protected by the Wildlife Act, meaning it is illegal to catch, collect, kill, cause habitat loss to or threaten lizards.

This left the city council with no choice but to relocate the endangered reptiles in what proved to be a costly process, adding an extra $611,000 to the $4.8 million budget.

Specialist fencing to contain the lizards across the worksite of 6ha cost $28,000.

Contractors also had to change the methodology of the site clearance from “spray and clear” to scrape with an excavator while lizards were captured by hand.

This resulted in added costs of $280,000 in additional labour, equipment, sediment control and meeting further health and safety requirements.

A total of $27,000 had to be spent on more than 300 live lizard traps. These traps will be used in future council projects.

A funnel trap. Photo: Endangered Species Foundation
A funnel trap. Photo: Endangered Species Foundation
The development of a lizard management plan and the attainment of a Department of Conservation permit cost $196,000.

Continued monitoring and maintenance of the lizard release areas over several years is budgeted to cost $34,000. Additional staff time added an extra $46,000 to the budget.

The location of the site and type of lizard present at it has been kept secret to minimise the possibility of the lizards being poached.

City council general manager of city services David Adamson said about 2700 lizards were captured and relocated.

"Due to lizard’s dormant nature in colder weather, the lizard count was only viable if the temperature was over 19 deg C.

"The weather therefore meant that the trapping took some time, which led to an extension of the contract, and associated costs for this delay,” he said.







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