Dozens of hazel dormice launched to create ‘northern stronghold’ for the species

Conservationists purpose to create a “northern stronghold” for the threatened hazel dormice with a launch of 39 of the tiny mammals in Lancashire.

The hazel dormice have been reintroduced into historical woodland owned by the National Trust as a part of efforts to assist the endangered species come again from the brink of extinction.

It follows a reintroduction of 30 hazel dormice final yr in neighbouring woodland owned by Authorities company Natural England, within the Arnside and Silverdale Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence.

The transfer goals to create an even bigger and better-connected inhabitants of hazel dormice within the north-west of England.

A local hazel dormouse (Kerstin Hinze)

It’s hoped additional releases will happen within the space sooner or later, and there are plans to erect a dormouse bridge over the West Coast Mainline railway to attach the 2021 and 2022 reintroduction websites, conservationists mentioned.

The native dormouse, immortalised because the sleepy visitor on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland, has suffered declines of greater than half since 2000 and have vanished from 17 English counties.

Annual dormouse reintroductions started in 1993 and have been managed by Individuals’s Belief for Endangered Species (PTES) since 2000, with final yr’s undertaking marking a milestone of greater than 1,000 animals launched throughout the nation.

The Lancashire reintroduction has been led by the PTES and the Nationwide Belief, and delivered by the College of Cumbria’s Again On Our Map (Increase) undertaking and companions.

The dormice are bred in captivity and bear a nine-week quarantine with common well being checks earlier than their launch, to make sure solely wholesome animals are put into the wild.

They’ve been launched into their woodland habitat, which has been chosen to ensure it meets their wants, in massive wire mesh cages with meals and water, which shall be commonly checked earlier than being opened in 10 days to permit them to begin to discover their new dwelling.

Ian White, dormouse and coaching officer for PTES, mentioned: “Hazel dormice have declined by a staggering 51% since 2000 and are thought of extinct in 17 English counties.

“The one method we are able to rebuild their populations is to proceed managing identified habitats appropriately to make sure the survival of any current populations and to rigorously launch wholesome, captive bred dormice into well-managed woodlands.”

A cage the dormice are launched into earlier than being let into the wild (Peter Howarth/PTES/PA)

He mentioned it was hoped this yr’s dormice would thrive of their new dwelling and in time meet up with the neighbouring group to type a wider inhabitants in Lancashire.

Jamie Armstrong, Ranger for the Nationwide Belief mentioned: “Our woodlands have been rigorously managed by Nationwide Belief rangers and volunteers for many years to make sure that they help a variety of wildlife.

“This work has led to a various woodland construction which makes the chosen space the best habitat for dormice.

“This, coupled with its shut proximity to the 2021 reintroduction website, will hopefully create a thriving inhabitants which is able to unfold all through neighbouring woodlands.”

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