The first ever litter of endangered hazel dormice pups has been born at wildlife conservation charity ‘Wildwood Escot’ in Devon, in the midst of conservationists’ struggle to continue their work under the restrictions of the pandemic.
The hazel dormouse is becoming a rarer sight, with populations dwindling since 2000 and a 51% decline in the UK since the millennium. Habitat-loss and fragmentation, climate change and changes to woodland management practices are causing this little mammal to struggle for survival.
But a beacon of hope has been lit at Wildlife charity Wildwood Escot in East Devon where four dormice pups have been born. This is the first ever litter for the charity which is already running a facility to rescue and rehabilitate dormice.
These pups are an important part of the puzzle of dormice conservation work, where the goal is essentially to breed more dormice for release to the wild in Devon and around the UK as part of Wildwood Escot’s dormouse conservation programme, in partnership with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for all wildlife conservation work, with most reintroductions postponed, travel to release or acquire new animals restricted, and animal facilities blocking up at wildlife conservation places like Wildwood Escot at a time when funds are already cut short.
Join the fight to save the hazel dormouse
Wildwood Escot would not be able to carry out this important work without the support of the public and they are now encouraging people to get involved, through the sponsorship of dormice nest boxes.
“In addition to providing vital support for our conservation work, sponsors will be able to follow the survey results on our web site and see who’s living in their nest box.”
Said George Hyde, General Manager at Wildwood Escot.
Dormice use nest boxes to raise their young, hibernate and they spend a great deal of time in them.
Surveying is key to conserving the dormouse, as the overall state of the population in Devon must be assessed and this is where nest boxes are essential.
Around 50 boxes will be included in the project and they will be placed in secret locations and regularly checked by licensed staff.
The data collected from the boxes will feed into a bigger national survey of hazel dormice.
Funds will also help Wildwood Escot expand their dormice facilities, train and inspire keepers and conservationists and increase the scientific understanding of dormice.
Helping the dormice return will also help other wildlife species and nature in general, because a thriving dormouse is often the sign of a thriving ecosystem.
Anyone can sponsor a nest box for £25. A sponsorship ensures the sponsor regular updates from their box, a picture of their personalised nest box at the secret survey site, an interesting fact sheet all about dormice, a certificate of sponsorship and a personalised sponsor plaque displayed in the park.
To find out more and sponsor a nest box, visit https://wildwoodtrust.org/shop/adoptions/sponsor-a-dormouse-nest-box-devon/