In memory of Karen Bigmore, long-term dormouse monitor

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We were incredibly sad to hear from Sue Portsmouth that one of our long-term dormouse monitors, Karen Bigmore, passed away at her home in April. Karen has been a dedicated monitor and a well-known part of the dormouse community for years. She started monitoring dormice at Hadleigh Great Wood in Essex in 2006, training Sue and another local volunteer, Norma Mills, the following year so they could also apply for their licences. Karen continued to train one or two local monitors annually, ensuring that interest and enthusiasm for the dormouse work continued.

Karen took part in many wildlife surveys and studies, including a local owl ringing project. Image credit Southend Dormouse Group.

Karen enjoyed attending the International Dormouse Conferences where she made many friends, not only from the UK but also from Europe, South Africa and Japan. She also helped with research into hazel dormouse ecology, which involved collecting dormouse poo for a PHD student, taking samples for DNA analysis, and micro-chipping dormice to find out more about their populations. More recently, Karen also helped with a dormouse footprint tracking tunnel study being carried out by Essex and Suffolk Dormouse Group which revealed which months dormice are more likely to be detected in.

Karen was also keen to volunteer for projects on other species. She collected data on otters, water voles, water shrews (recording the first known water shrew on Two Tree Island) and barn owls. Despite not being able to get out to monitor dormice as much as she would have liked in recent years, Karen remained active and passionate in the dormouse group. She left a great legacy in Essex. She trained a great many people for their dormice licences, and she helped teach and raise awareness about dormice ecology and conservation through many presentations and wildlife events. Karen will be greatly missed by so many.

Written by Southend Dormouse Group.

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