CONSERVATIONISTS are trying to coax the elusive dormouse to Morecambe Bay in a bid to ensure the micro mammal’s survival.
People are being asked to keep a keen eye out for the arboreal dormouse which is in decline in the UK due to habitat loss.
Bob Hamnett, Recorder, Mammals and other vertabrates for the Arnside and District Natural History Society, said: “They are a vital part of the food chain that also ensures the survival of their predators.”
Mr Hamnett said that woodlands in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are suitable for the survival of dormice in the Morecambe Bay area.
One project has seen several hundred black tubes put down in the woodlands in the hope that dormice will use them for nesting.
The group has also been checking hazel nuts for the distinctive gnawing pattern of this particular dormouse species.
Mr Hamnett said: “We have a responsibility to maintain species diversity for future generations.
“We need your reports of sightings and we need to know much more about the life of our micro mammals if we want to ensure their populations are maintained.”
And, recently there has been a ‘reliable’ report of a dormouse being seen in a Kendal garden.
Mr Hamnett says that evidence of sightings is important as the presence of dormouse has to be proved in order to secure already limited funding.
“The more fully we know their needs, the more we can minimise the effect our activities have on their habitats,” Mr Hamnett added.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) runs the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, which records the health and numbers of dormice, as well as working to increase the population.
Ian White, Dormouse Officer for PTES, said: “The decline has slowed but it’s important we keep doing what we’re doing so there’s no further decline.”
The Woodland Trust claims the decline is a microcosm on how poor management, ancient woodland and hedgerow loss and damage plus tree diseases are threatening wildlife habitat and food sources.
In the last decade, it has recorded a loss of four woods in Cumbria, with another four damaged or under threat.
The public can report sightings of dormice to PTES by phone at 020 7498 4533 or online at http://www.ptes.org/dormousemonitoring