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Marking three decades of dormouse conservation

UK conservation charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species marks the 30th anniversary of its National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP) this year – the longest-running small land mammal survey in the world.

Established in 1990 to monitor how the UK’s hazel dormouse populations are faring, results for the 2019 report revealed that, although some populations are thriving, overall Britain’s hazel dormice numbers have dropped by 51% since 2000, falling on average 3.8% per year.

Hazel dormouse (Clare Pengelly)

Hazel dormice are already extinct from 17 counties in England with loss of habitat such as woodlands, hedgerow and bramble banks all contributing to the mammals’ demise. In addition, climate change – with milder winters and wetter springs and summer – has also had an impact on hibernation and breeding.  As a result, hazel dormice are now classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the recent Red List for British Mammals.

Hazel dormouse (Clare Pengelly)

To help the plight of the UK’s dormice, PTES is involved in a number of initiatives, including supplying nest boxes to hundreds of sites in England and Wales and managing annual dormice reintroductions.  Over the last 26 years, PTES has managed 30 dormouse reintroductions at 24 sites – including 12 counties where they had been lost – releasing almost 1,000 captive-bred dormice to create new populations.

Hazel dormouse (Clare Pengelly)

PTES also provides guidance for woodland managers, training over 1,000 people since 2010, and launched the Great British Hedgerow Survey in 2019, working with farmers and landowners to manage hedgerows on their land. The conservation charity has also teamed up with ecological consultancy Animex to create dormouse bridges to improve accessibility between habitats. One bridge is successfully in use in Briddlesford Woods on the Isle of Wight, with others currently in development that will cross motorways and railway lines.

To find out more about the work of People’s Trust for Endangered Species visit www.ptes.org

Main image: Hazel dormouse (Gyalosi Beata, Shutterstock)

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