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Dormouse Monitoring in the Blackdown Hills

9th March 2016

The Natural Futures team are very excited to announce a side project aiming to monitor the hazel dormouse at sites in the Blackdown Hills!

With the help of enthusiastic local volunteers of all ages, the Natural Futures project team are installing 300 dormouse nest boxes at six different sites over the winter and spring of 2016, and are appealing for volunteer help with monitoring four of these sites.

The hazel dormouse is one of our most secretive and seldom-seen native species, and has suffered serious declines in past decades, largely driven by habitat degredation and loss. The Blackdown Hills has historically been regarded as a potential stronghold for the species due the network of species-rich ancient hedgerows and broadleaved woodland, although very little monitoring of the species has ever taken place in the AONB. Our project is hoping to change this, thanks to the support of local landowners who are hosting nestboxes, and with kind donations of boxes from the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and local business Seasons Ecology. Nest box checking takes place throughout the summer on a monthly basis, and we are arranging checking visits during the week and at weekends to ensure everybody has a chance to get involved. Nest box checking is a lovely way to see a woodland, and handling dormice is a really special experience. All the data we collect at these sites will become part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Project run by PTES - a long-running flagship monitoring scheme aimed at tracking the status of this protected species.

If you would like to get involved, please email conrad.barrowclough@devon.gov.uk.

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