Press release: ‘Northern stronghold’ for rare hazel dormice created in Lancashire

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39 endangered hazel dormice are reintroduced into an ancient woodland in Lancashire

  • This reintroduction follows the milestone reintroduction in 2021 that saw 30 hazel dormice (including the UK’s 1,000th) being released into a neighbouring woodland, creating a bigger and better-connected population in the Lancashire landscape
  • Unique partnership of 10 organisations aims to bring hazel dormice back from the brink

This week, a ‘northern stronghold’ of rare hazel dormice will be created in Lancashire. This builds on a previous reintroduction in the same area, in a ground-breaking attempt to create a bigger and better-connected population of hazel dormice in the north west of England.

Last year, 30 hazel dormice were released into a woodland in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and now a further 39 will be reintroduced into a neighbouring woodland which has been carefully selected to support dormice. The reintroduction is led by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), the National Trust, and delivered by the University of Cumbria’s Back On Our Map project, and partners.

Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius ) |Haselmaus
A native hazel dormouse. Credit Kerstin Hinze.

The annual dormouse reintroductions (which are part of Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme) began in 1993, and have been managed by PTES since 2000. But their ongoing success is only possible thanks to a unique partnership of organisations and volunteers working tirelessly to help bring hazel dormice back from the brink.

This year’s reintroduction will be held in a National Trust owned woodland and is also part of ‘Back On Our Map’ (BOOM) – a multispecies, landscape scale project which aims to return 10 locally threatened or extinct native species, such as dormice, to the area. BOOM is led by the University of Cumbria, Morecambe Bay Partnership and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Prior to the reintroduction all dormice, which are captive bred by members of the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group, including Wildwood Trust, undergo a nine-week quarantine and receive regular health checks by wildlife vets at Paignton Zoo in Devon and ZSL (Zoological Society of London)’s Disease Risk Analysis and Health Surveillance (DRAHS) team. Both organisations ensure that only healthy dormice are released into the wild, taking vital steps to mitigate against disease and ensuring that no parasites can be transmitted from the captive bred population to wild dormice.

Ian White, Dormouse & Training Officer for PTES explains: “Hazel dormice have declined by a staggering 51% since 2000 and are considered extinct in 17 English counties. The only way we can rebuild their populations is to continue managing known habitats correctly to ensure the survival of any existing populations and to carefully release healthy, captive bred dormice into well-managed woodlands. We hope this year’s dormice will thrive in their new home, and in time will meet the population we reintroduced last year to create Lancashire’s first self-sustaining metapopulation*.”

Jamie Armstrong, Ranger for the National Trust says: “Our woodlands have been carefully managed by National Trust rangers and volunteers for decades to ensure that they support a wide range of flora and fauna. This work has led to a diverse woodland structure which makes the chosen area the ideal habitat for dormice. This, coupled with its close proximity to the 2021 reintroduction site, will hopefully create a thriving population which will spread throughout neighbouring woodlands.”

Ellie Kent, Species Officer for BOOM, adds: “Last year was a landmark year for dormice, and we are thrilled to report that the 2021 population is doing really well, with several juveniles born last autumn having survived the winter. Reintroducing a further population this year is another pivotal moment for all involved, particularly for our volunteers who give up their time to help us feed the dormice in their first few months, and conduct regular checks to make sure they remain healthy. We are very proud to work alongside our volunteers, local and national partners to create a northern stronghold for dormice on the Lancashire/Cumbria border.”

The journey of a reintroduced dormouse. Credit PTES.

Ten days after the reintroduction, volunteers, National Trust and BOOM staff will open the mesh reintroduction cage doors to allow the dormice to start exploring their new home. ZSL’s wildlife vets will be on hand to ensure the reintroduced population is healthy and ready for a new life in the wild.

Reintroductions are crucial to the long-term conservation of any endangered species and are vital to combatting the ongoing decline of hazel dormice. Since the first reintroduction in 1993, over 1,000 dormice (the majority of which have been bred by the CDCBG and Wildwood Trust) have been reintroduced at 24 different sites in 13 different counties across the UK, by PTES and partners.

Last year saw the first ever hazel dormice reintroduced into Lancashire, which are now thriving in the neighbouring woodland owned and managed by Natural England. It is hoped that in the future further reintroductions will take place in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, in a bid to establish even more hazel dormice in this part of the north west.

Later this year there are plans to erect a bespoke dormouse bridge over the West Coast Main railway line, connecting the 2021 and 2022 reintroduction sites.

To find out more about PTES’ dormouse conservation work, visit

*self-sustaining meta-population (a regional group of connected populations that will hopefully form a wider population in time)


A Dropbox link to high-res images and footage from the reintroduction will be available for media use. For this link, or to arrange interviews with experts, please contact Adela Cragg:

T: 07532 685 614


Notes to Editors

Available for interview

  • Ian White, Dormouse & Training Officer, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)
  • Ellie Kent, Project Officer, Back On Our Map (BOOM)
  • Neil Bemment, Chair, Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group (CDCBG)
  • Anya Kuliszewksi, Nature and Wildlife Officer, Morecambe Bay Partnership
  • Jamie Armstrong, Ranger, National Trust
  • Katherine Walsh, Senior Environmental Specialist, Natural England
  • Ghislaine Sayers, Head of Veterinary Services, Paignton Zoo
  • Hazel Ryan, Senior Conservation Officer, Wildwood Trust
  • Dr Tammy Shadbolt, Wildlife Veterinarian & Research Associate, ZSL

About PTES

  • PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events.
  • PTES’ current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards, native woodlands, wood pasture and parkland and hedgerows.
  • PTES has Species Champions for three of its priority species: for hedgehogs The Rt Hon Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom & Ewell, for water voles The Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central and Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, and for dormice The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
  • Visit and follow PTES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & LinkedIn.

About BOOM (the University of Cumbria)

The Back on Our Map Project (BOOM) is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is a four-year project led by the University of Cumbria and is delivered in partnership with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Forestry England and Morecambe Bay Partnership. BOOM is a multispecies restoration project aiming to reinforce and reintroduce a collection of locally threatened or extinct species into the lowland fells of south Cumbria and the coast of Morecambe Bay, reversing biodiversity decline through community action.

About the Common (Hazel) Dormouse Captive Breeders Group

  • Formed in the early 1990’s by a group of like-minded mammal conservationists. The first releases were carried out in 1993 under the auspices of the Natural England Species Recovery Programme for the Hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius. Neil Bemment has been Chairman with responsibility for coordinating the activities of the CDCBG since 2000, while the studbook is currently maintained by Suzanne Kynaston, with assistance from Hazel Ryan, at the Wildwood Trust, Kent.

About the Morecambe Bay Partnership

  • Morecambe Bay Partnership is a charity whose vision is thriving bay, rich in landscape, wildlife and culture, which connects and inspires locals and visitors alike.
  • The Partnership works with local people to put them at the heart of looking after Morecambe Bay’s unique natural, cultural and built assets. From protecting rare birds to beach cleans, from creating cycle ways to saving stories of veteran fisherman, Morecambe Bay Partnership delivers projects that make great things happen for local communities.
  • There is more about the Partnership’s work at

About the National Trust

  • The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people, Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy.
  • The Trust has committed to achieving carbon net zero emissions by 2030, and establishing 20 million trees to help tackle climate change, creating green corridors for people and nature near towns and cities, running a year-long campaign to connect people with nature and continuing investment in arts and heritage. Ensuring everyone who visits feels welcome, and more people can access its places continues to be another key aspect of the charity’s work.
  • Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • The National Trust receives more than 26.9 million visits each year to the places it cares for that have an entry fee, and an estimated 100 million visits to the outdoor places looked after by the charity. Together with 5.9 million members and more than 65,000 volunteers, they help to support the conservation charity in its work to care for nature, beauty, history. For everyone, for ever.

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

  • Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
  • Follow @HeritageFundUK on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund   
  • Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK.

About Natural England

  • Natural England works with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species to provide an ongoing programme of funding, coordination and monitoring of the dormouse recovery project.  Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. They conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.

About Paignton Zoo

  • Paignton Zoo, together with Newquay Zoo and three nature reserves, Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, Primley Park and Clennon Gorge, are all part of the charity Wild Planet Trust.
  • Wild Planet Trust co-ordinates wildlife conservation projects both in the UK and overseas, as well as research projects on topics such as animal behaviour, nutrition, enrichment and ecology.
  • Wild Planet Trust is helping to halt species decline and acts to protect at-risk animals and plants from the impacts of biodiversity loss.  We believe that every species is important, everything is connected and every action matters.
  • Both Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo are members of the British & Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA is a conservation, education and wildlife charity representing over 100 of the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland.
  • Visit and follow Paignton Zoo on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

About Wildwood Trust

  • Wildwood Trust opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife, and was established as a registered charity in 2002. Wildwood is Kent’s best British wildlife park. Home to over 200 native animals, past and present and set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more. As one of the leading British wildlife conservation charities, Wildwood Trust is dedicated to saving Britain’s most threatened species. Wildwood Trust has taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes to date, which include, saving the water vole, using wild horses to help restore Kent’s most precious nature reserves, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse & red squirrel to areas where they have been made extinct.
  • Visit the website here:

About ZSL

  • ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science at the Institute of Zoology, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit   
  • ZSL’s Disease Risk Analysis and Health Surveillance (DRAHS) veterinary experts help mitigate the risk from disease during dormice translocations. They ensure that the dormice are fit and healthy for release, and free of non-native parasites, and have the best chance of survival in their new forest home.

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