Thirty years since dormice brought to Cambridgeshire woodland

A charity is celebrating 30 years of successfully reintroducing a rare species of dormice into woodland.

A first batch of hazel dormice were taken from Somerset and brought to Brampton Wood, Cambridgeshire, in 1993.

The Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants (WTBCN), which owns the wood, said at the time it was the first reintroduction of the species ever attempted in the UK.

Dormice are considered extinct in 17 English counties.

Wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) found that in 2019, nationwide populations of dormice had declined by 51% since 2000.

Loss of woodland and hedgerows, as well as climate change, had impacted their population, according to PTES.

Ian White of PTES said: “The fact that descendants of this initial population are still present after 30 years is a testament to the hard work by the WTBCN.”

Dr Gwen Hitchcock, for the WTBCN, said volunteers had collected “a huge quantity of high quality data that has allowed the success of the project to be accurately monitored”.

An additional seven dormice have been added to increase the genetic diversity of the existing population.

Mr White said: “This is very encouraging for dormice and gives hope for other reintroduced populations across the country too.”

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