Twenty more breeding pairs of hazel dormice are to be released into woodland in Nottinghamshire. Ecologists have noticed a long term downward trend in dormice numbers, as well as a shrinking of their range. This is largely attributed to loss of their woodland and hedgerow habitats as well as changes in traditional habitat management techniques.
These factors have pushed the hazel dormice to the brink of extinction in the UK, isolated populations were hanging on in Southern England and South Wales. However, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) are committed to turning this around. They have previously undertaken 24 reintroductions in 19 sites around the UK, more than 750 dormice have been released so far. This reintroduction of 40 individuals in Nottinghamshire will be the 25th reintroduction PTES have carried out. The dormice have been captive bred, after a full health check by a vet the dormice will be placed in wooden nest boxes which will be secured to trees. The 20 breeding pairs will be checked and fed daily for the initial part of the reintroduction, until they settle into their new environment.
This reintroduction site is located close to the two previous release sites, PTES hope to create wildlife corridors between the three sites by improving the landscape. This will allow the dormice to disperse and join up which will promote the long term survival of the species.
Sources: BBC Earth. Online. June 2015