GWT launches urgent new appeal to save local dormice

Thursday 19th October 2017

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust launches urgent dormice appealHelp save local dormice in Gloucestershire

One of the county's best-loved creatures is at risk of dying out unless urgent action is taken. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is warning that hazel dormice are clinging on for survival and has launched a fundraising appeal to help these special animals.

The number of hazel dormice has plummeted by 72% in the last 20 years. They depend on carefully managed woodland and hedgerows, but these special habitats are in decline.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, a charity which manages 60 nature reserves around the county, needs to carry out urgent work and to buy resources in order to help hazel dormice survive.

If enough funds are raised, experts at GWT will be able to buy and install 300 nest boxes for dormice and start vital woodland management tasks at its nature reserves in the Forest of Dean (Lancaut, Hobb’s Quarry and Poor’s Allotment), Stroud Valleys (Siccaridge Wood and Strawberry Banks near Sapperton) and in South Gloucestershire (Lower Woods and Midger Wood near Wotton under Edge).

At GWT we're determined to do all we can to protect these animals before it's too late  

Roger Mortlock, GWT Chief Executive

“Dormice are already extinct in seven English counties, and the population is fragmented and vulnerable here in Gloucestershire with numbers continuing to decline. That’s why we want to protect Gloucestershire’s dormice and to help halt their decline, but we need help to do this,” says Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. “Managing woodland for dormice takes skill and expertise from our volunteers and staff team. At GWT we’re determined to do all we can to protect these animals before it’s too late.”

Work needs to take place this winter, while the dormice are hibernating and before they start searching for food in the spring, such as fruit and nuts from young hazel trees.

The charity needs to raise £30,000 to help protect hazel dormice. To donate to the Dormice in Danger appeal and to find out more about the charity’s work in the places where dormice live, visit gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/dormice or call 01452 383333. A donation of £15 could pay for a new nest box, while £80 could pay for 15 metres of native hedgerow to be planted.

Grundon Waste Management Ltd has kindly promised to match fund the appeal, so for every £1 donated by members of the public, the company will match it, up to £15,000.

10 facts about hazel dormice

  • They are golden in colour, with large black eyes, and are about the same size as a wood mouse. They are the only UK rodent with a furry tail!
  • Nest boxes provide a warm and cosy space where dormice can give birth and raise their young.
  • Dormice boxes are similar to bird boxes, with a hole in the back close to the tree trunk. They are located four feet off the ground.
  • Hedgerows help dormice to move between different woods and provides a vital source of food.
  • Hazel dormice need a varied habitat in order to thrive but the loss of hedgerows and the destruction of ancient woodland mean they are less able to move between populations to breed.
  • They are usually active from April to October, and hibernate on the ground for the rest of the year.
  • Their fur isn’t weather proof, and they will avoid the rain. Wetter seasons and extreme weather is likely to affect dormouse populations.
  • They are protected under national and European legislation.
  • A licence is needed to carry out nest box surveys, which is held by selected members of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust staff. Data collected by GWT is forwarded to the National Dormouse Monitoring Project.