If you go down to a Nottinghamshire wood tomorrow, you might meet a dormouse or two. Forty captive-bred dormice are due to be released there in the 19th reintroduction project by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), which has placed 700 of the endangered rodents into 11 counties over the past 20 years.
Once widespread in England and Wales, their numbers have diminished greatly over the past century, although that decline seems to be slowing. ‘Survival rates of reintroduced dormice are extremely high,’ explains Ian White of the PTES. ‘Those from some release sites are known to have dispersed beyond the woodland in which they were released. This is part of our long-term conservation strategy for the species and we only attempt it in areas where historical populations of dormice have become extinct.’
The dormice are released as breeding pairs, each in a wooden nest box inside a mesh cage, secured to a tree. These are removed once the animals have settled.