Dormouse ‘highway’ created in Wensleydale

Nearly half a mile of hedgerows has been planted in Wensleydale to help expand the territory of one of the UK’s most endangered mammals, the hazel dormouse.

The new hedgerows create a ‘highway’ for dormice to move between areas of woodland.

Dormice had become extinct in Yorkshire and much of the country, but after reintroductions in 2008 and 2016 have regained a foothold in mid-Wensleydale.

The hedgerow planting (a total of 750 metres) was part of a three-year project – now entering its last year – supported by grants of £75,000 from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and nearly £48,000 from Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The dormouse ‘highway’ being created in Wensleydale.

The project contributes to the new National Park Management Plan 2019-2024 objective C2 ‘to achieve…increasing populations for 90% of priority species’.

Ian White, dormouse and training officer at PTES, said: “Dormice have declined in the UK by 38% since the year 2000 due mainly to a lack of woodland management and a loss of hedgerows.

“The project to restore hazel dormice to Wensleydale, where we know they were a hundred years ago, has been a great success.

“Hedge planting and better woodland management should help to ensure they can remain in this area of Yorkshire for at least the next hundred years.”

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Member Champion for the Natural Environment, Ian McPherson, said: “Dormice are adorable, as well as highly endangered, and their reintroduction in Wensleydale has been one of the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s biggest conservation success stories.

“It would be impossible to create these dormice ‘highways’ between areas of woodland without the full support of several landowners in mid-Wensleydale.

“I would like to thank them for supporting and enhancing wildlife in the National Park.”