Britain’s native dormouse could now be extinct in Derbyshire, according to a new report.
The State of Britain’s Dormice report says the number of the tiny fury animals has declined by more than a third since 2000.
The report, carried out by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species, also says that dormice are now vulnerable to extinction in Britain.
The charity says that changes in woodland management, farming practices, loss of hedgerows and the fragmentation of woodland have all taken a heavy toll on their living space.
A spokesman for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “The dormouse is very probably extinct in Derbyshire.
“There were two reintroductions in the county, but we are not aware of any sightings since 2008.
“We are constantly working to improve Derbyshire’s habitat health and biodiversity, but it does not appear that we can support dormice populations at present.
“If there were dormice populations close to our borders or discovered inside the county then obviously we would work to support and protect them and the habitat they require.”
The number of hazel dormice counted at nestboxes in England and Wales since 2000 has fallen by 38 per cent, and 55 per cent since the mid-1990s.
Dormice are thought to be more common in southern England and Wales.
“Dormice need well managed woodlands connected by hedgerows so that they can spread,” the report states.
“They thrived when hazel trees in woodlands were regularly cut back (coppiced) because this provided plenty of fruiting trees for food. Despite the revival of coppicing in some areas, many woodlands have changed too drastically to support dormice. The loss of two thirds of our nation’s hedgerows, and the lack of suitable management of many that remain, makes matters worse. The dormice that do remain have limited living space and are increasingly isolated.”
More information is available at: ptes.org/campaigns/dormice/