The hazel dormouse, a small rodent species native to northern Europe and Asia Minor, is declining in numbers. The species is currently protected in Europe; however, despite conservation efforts, their numbers are declining at a significant rate, according to Wiley.
A recent mammal review study showed that the hazel dormouse population has declined 72 percent. During the study, researchers analyzed data collected between 1993 and 2014, across 400 sites in the UK. This equates to approximately a 5.8 percent decline per year.
The hazel dormouse lives in woodland areas and survives on insects, nuts and flowers. They are nocturnal animals, which enables National Dormouse Monitoring Programme volunteers at sites in England and Wales to conduct a more careful count.
These number gathered during the study demonstrate an ongoing decline and point to the hazel dormouse, which is considered one of Britain’s most endearing woodland mammals, according to lead study author Cecily Goodwin, moving from a protected species to an endangered species in the UK.
The problems that threaten dormice are habitat loss and climate change. However, Professor Robbie McDonald, senior author of the study, said proper woodland management could make a big difference in saving the species.
By Trixie Dillwood
Photo by Thames Water