Rare dormice return
More good news for wildlife this week, with the reintroduction of 34 captive-bred dormice in Warwickshire. One of Britain’s most endearing but elusive mammals, the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) has been the subject of an ambitious reintroduction programme led by People’s Trust for Endangered Species.
“There is good news and bad about dormice,” explains Nida Al-Fulaij, who coordinates such reintroductions at PTES. “The bad news is that despite their once widespread existence throughout much of England and Wales, there has been a dramatic 40% decline in their population numbers over the last two decades and they are now rare and vulnerable to extinction. The good news is that analysis suggests that although dormice continue to decline, the rate of decline may be slowing. This gives us every reason to double our efforts for dormice with renewed confidence and enthusiasm that we are doing something right, and reintroductions are a key aspect of those efforts.”
The dormice were released in pairs into the wild at a private woodland as part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme – the world’s longest running national mammal monitoring project – which is managed by PTES and co-funded by Natural England. Reintroductions are only done in areas where historical populations of dormice have gone extinct and where sympathetic management of woodland and hedgerows means the have a chance to repopulate the area.
For more on the programme and PTES’ other activities, visit www.ptes.org