Populations of one of the UK’s most elusive and arguably cutest native mammals, the hazel dormouse, have been given 300 new homes on the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and donations from The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Seasons Ecology. The new nest boxes provide a safe and sheltered space for dormice to raise their young at six new National Dormouse Monitoring Programme sites. Over forty volunteers
were involved in putting up the boxes and will help licensed dormouse handlers monitor them over the coming years.
The National Dormouse Monitoring Programme was established twenty five years ago by The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and is an initiative that collates data from sites across the UK to keep a record of the distribution and abundance of dormouse populations at a national level. Dormice have suffered dramatic declines over the past century due to loss of ancient woodland habitat, and providing nest boxes can help keep track of how populations are faring, and also provide habitat for rearing their young.
The nest boxes have been provided by the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project which works across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to survey wildlife sites and raise awareness of nature conservation through a wide range of events and activities. Conrad Barrowclough from Blackdown Hills Natural Futures said: “The opportunity to boost monitoring of this most endearing of native species is really exciting. The Blackdown Hills is a stunning area and potentially offers an abundance of dormouse habitat, so the chance to contribute records to a national scheme from such a historically under-recorded area is great”.