French city moves protected snails one by one to make way for tramway


In a bid to limit the environmental impact of its second tramway line, the city of Brest in north-west France has begun moving a protected species of snail, "Escargot de Quimper", by hand.

They are small, protected, and in absolutely no hurry to move.

The presence of the rare Quimper Snail, whose habitat is restricted to areas of northwest France and northern Spain, has caused a major headache for developers seeking to lay down a new tram route in the northwestern French city of Brest.

Conservation workers are now picking through undergrowth to individually remove protected snails blocking the planned tram route – one by one.

"Here's a little one!" shouted Oriane Josserand after just a few minutes of looking during an evening operation.

The small Quimper snails, which live in western Brittany and northern Spain, have given property developers in the region cold sweats since football club Stade Brestois had to abandon a planned training centre in 2012.

Campaigners also attempted to enlist them against a project to build a gas-fired power plant in mainland France's westernmost department Finistere.

When laying out the city's second tram line, Brest authorities found "it was impossible to avoid all Quimper snail habitats," said Caroline Francois-Even of Biotope, an agency that produces environmental studies.

Instead, the city decided to move as many snails as could be found from the planned route over four rainy evenings in November, just before the gastropods enter hibernation.

New habitats


Read more on RFI English

Read also:
Outcry in Brittany as megalithic standing stones cleared for construction of DIY store
French court orders fishing bans to protect dolphins on Atlantic coast
French escargot sales slow to a snail’s pace in Covid crisis