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Prisoners build over 10,000 nest boxes for rare hazel dormice

Home // News // Prisoners build over 10,000 nest boxes for rare hazel dormice

UK conservation charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has been working in partnership with HMP Doncaster and HMP Humber in order help wider conservation efforts to save the rare hazel dormouse, whose population numbers have fallen dramatically over the last century. Since 2010, men at both prison sites have built 10,963 dormouse nest boxes as part of PTES & Natural England’s National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP).

The partnership between PTES and HMP Doncaster and HMP Humber is now in its sixth year, and the 10,963 newly built nest boxes have been distributed to nearly 150 of the 400 NDMP sites to provide new homes for dormice to help replace natural habitats that have been lost.

Hazel dormice were once widespread across England and Wales, but due to continuing loss of their ancient woodland and hedgerow habitat, numbers have declined dramatically over the last century. As a result, hazel dormice are now listed as rare and vulnerable to extinction. To combat falling populations, PTES and Natural England co-fund the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, which relies on volunteers to collect dormouse data from nest boxes at NDMP sites across the country. By installing special nest boxes, which are similar to bird boxes, PTES can observe any changes to dormouse populations in a given area, as well as providing a much needed alternative habitat.

Ian White, Dormouse & Training Officer at PTES said: “We are delighted to have reached the milestone of 10,000 dormouse nest boxes. Hazel dormice have declined significantly over the last century, so they need all the help they can get. Our collaboration with the Prison Service is an invaluable part of our national effort to conserve this endangered species and their contribution is making a real difference.”

Prisoners at HMP Doncaster and HMP Humber are not only providing support for dormouse conversation, but they are also giving back to the community and developing new, practical and teamworking skills. In recognition of their contribution to conservation, HMP Humber are to receive the ‘Judges Gold Commendation Award’ at the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Wildlife Awards on 25 May.

Ian Telfer, Governor at HMP Humber said: “We approached PTES about this partnership as we wanted to allow our men the opportunity to give something back, as well as helping to save the hazel dormouse from extinction. To be recognised for the Judges Gold Commendation Award is an achievement we are all very proud of.”

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For more information, interview requests or images contact

Susannah Penn or Adela Cragg at Firebird PR on

01235 835297 / 07977 459 547 or



Available for interview:

  • Ian White, Dormouse & Training Officer, PTES

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. Our current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards and native woodlands.
  • Visit for more information, or follow PTES on Facebook ( and Twitter (@PTES).

About the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP)

  • The NDMP is co-funded by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Natural England and has been running for over 25 years, currently collecting data from about 400 sites. It is one of only a handful of mammal programmes contributing long-term data on population trends.  Dormice are monitored by putting up nest boxes similar to bird boxes on hazel trees and checking the boxes for occupancy at regular intervals. Numbers of dormice are recorded and basic biometric data collected. The results are held in a database which is used to assess the status of the species over time. The NDMP relies completely on the enthusiastic commitment of volunteers who collect dormouse data annually at sites all over the country.

About HMP Doncaster & HMP Humber

  • HMP Doncaster is a Category ‘B’ prison for young offenders and adult male prisoners located in South Yorkshire, UK.
  • HMP Humber is a Category ‘C’ prison for adult males located in the East Yorkshire/North Lincolnshire, UK.


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