Rare hazel dormice reintroduced into Warwickshire woodland
People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and partners, are today releasing 19 breeding pairs of rare hazel dormice into an undisclosed woodland location in Warwickshire, in an attempt to stem the decline of this endangered species.
With their soft caramel fur, furry tail and big black eyes, hazel dormice are without question one of Britain’s most endearing mammals, but sadly these charismatic creatures are also endangered. The latest research indicates that dormouse numbers have plummeted by more than 70% in 20 years. The decline can be attributed to the loss of woodland and hedgerow habitat, as well as changes to traditional countryside management practices. As a result, hazel dormice have become extinct from 17 English counties since the end of the 19th century and populations are declining. This is an animal in critical need of help.
You can follow their journey on Twitter searching for #dormouseday, and make a donation here to support this vital wildlife work.
Ian White, PTES’ Dormouse Officer explains: “Our dormouse conservation work involves managing a nationwide dormouse monitoring scheme, coordinating annual reintroductions and advising land owners about empathetic land management practices. The reintroductions are important for the long-term conservation of this species, as we’re restoring dormice to counties where they’ve been lost so that they can thrive again. This is a great start in beginning to combat their decline. Our approach also benefits a whole raft of other species including birds, bats and butterflies.”
This Warwickshire reintroduction marks the 27th dormouse reintroduction led by PTES. Over the last 24 years, more than 864 dormice have been released at 22 different sites across 12 English counties. Today’s reintroduction marks the culmination of weeks of work by partners PTES, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Zoological Society of London, Paignton Zoo and the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group, and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Dormouse reintroductions are part of Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme, with this reintroduction following an earlier successful release at Windmill Naps in Warwickshire in 2009, where 46 hazel dormice were returned to the wood. A future reintroduction is also planned at a woodland near the 2017 release site, aiming to link the hedgerows between the two hazel dormouse hotspots, allowing the two separate groups to interbreed, creating a larger self-sustaining population.