Dormouse appealHelp a dormouse
Releasing dormice back to the wild
Hazel dormice are now officially rare and vulnerable to extinction. The steady destruction and deterioration of the woodlands and hedgerows they rely on has left dormice isolated and exposed. I have the great privilege of managing the reintroduction of dormice back to the wild where they previously thrived. It’s a programme PTES has been running since 1993 to turn around the dormouse decline. This June, I’ll be back in Lancashire carrying out this year’s reintroduction. We’ll be releasing 39 more dormice into the wild.
We’re carrying out three releases in adjacent woodlands in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty, all connected by good quality hedgerows to restore the dormouse population. The first release was last year, when we released our 1,000th dormouse. Later in the year we checked for signs of babies and by October, we found at least 20 dormice young from eight litters. This showed that dormice were successfully breeding on site and within five months we were already recording more dormice than we had released which was a fantastic result.
This year, we’re releasing dormice into a nearby woodland. The dormice we release are bred and looked after by experts in the Common Dormouse Captive Breeding Group. Each is health checked and quarantined prior to release. Once they’ve reached their new home, we provide them with food and water until they’ve found their feet.
Managing woodlands where dormice live, and ensuring they can travel beyond it, is key to their long-term survival. So a vital part of this project is to coppice the woodlands and manage the scrubby edges to provide good foraging areas and restore the hedgerows that run between the separate woodlands. We also plan to install a small dormouse bridge over a road that runs between two woodlands.
Now we have the first group of dormice safely out in the wild, I’m asking for your help for this phase; restoring the surrounding landscape and planning the reintroduction of the next group of dormice, from breeding to release. If you can contribute to this project, you’ll be helping dormice thrive in the wild once more.
Ian White, Dormouse Officer