Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dormice make national headlines again

After the news last month - Dormouse numbers halve over last 20 years - this endangered species made national headlines again yesterday, when the UK’s first black dormice was found in Devon.
The discovery was made when staff, trainees and volunteers from the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project were checking dormouse nest-boxes as part of The National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.
Sadly, Britain’s dormice are under threat of extinction, with changes in the way we manage farmland and woodland making it harder for these delightful little creatures to survive. Dormice need well-managed woodlands connected by hedgerows rich in fruiting plants so that they can spread and prosper. They thrived at a time when we had many more hedgerows, and when hazel trees in woodlands were regularly coppiced providing plenty of nuts for food.
This black dormouse was discovered on farmland which is being managed with nature conservation in mind. The farm’s hedgerows are managed by hand using traditional techniques, bringing great diversity of wildlife including a healthy population of dormice. They are exceptionally rich in wildlife, supporting a wide range of species in addition to a healthy population of dormice.
All the increased publicity will no doubt be welcome for those trying to protect the species; less so for those plotting to decimate 2km of ancient hedgerows and dormouse habitat at Straitgate Farm.