Of dormice and men
LAST week, 19 breeding pairs and trios of rare hazel dormice were reintroduced into the woods of Warwickshire, an initiative led by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to stem the species’ decline.
In the past 20 years, dormouse numbers have plummeted by 70%, claims new research from the University of Exeter, despite the fact that, over the past 24 years, the PTES has done its best to help, with more than 864 dormice released at 22 different sites across 12 English counties. The decline of the adorable hazel dormouse, with its caramel fur and big black eyes, is attributed to the loss of woodland and hedgerow habitat and changes to countryside management. It is now extinct across 17 English counties.
The Warwickshire reintroduction, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, marks the culmination of weeks of work by the PTES and partners Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Zoological Society of London, Paignton Zoo and the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is working on larger action for wildlife in the area, restoring nearly 750 acres of ancient woodland and 12 miles of historic hedgerows, which include old parish boundaries, 15 ponds and 50 acres of flower-rich grassland, over the next four years.