Although relatively limited in distribution, chiefly being found within southern England and Wales, we do come across dormice or rather locations in which they are known to be present quite often owing to one of our projects being the fencing contract for Network Rail, Wales.
There are two species of dormice within the UK, our own native species and the edible (or fat) dormouse – only our own is legally protected and it is an offense to capture, injure or kill or damage or destroy a place of rest or shelter.
This has obvious implications for development / agricultural or rural works and so surveys by suitably experienced and licensed ecologists to establish the presence / likely absence of the species within the area of works are required and should the species be present, an appropriate mitigation strategy be formed.
Habitat connectivity is vital to the success of this species and if interconnectivity between colonies is not present then unless the colony is very large, viability is highly unlikely. It is also important to note that dormice are an arboreal species and apart from to hibernate, rarely use the ground – much preferring to travel through vegetation above ground. Desktop surveys to establish known populations are therefore vital to ensure that even works where evidence of dormice have not been found are taking place, segmentation of colonies does not occur – for example through the removal of a section of hedgerow used for commuting.
Should such works be inevitable then a suitable mitigation strategy must be developed to ensure that this does not happen which may include the planting or growing of bushes and trees adjacent to the gap to be created and allowing them to meet over the gap creating a bridge that allows the dormice to pass without touching the ground.