Tracking our rarest mammals

Woman holding a dormouse

Some of Wales’s rarest mammals – including dormice, bats and otters - have been tracked and surveyed by more than 100 volunteers over the last few years. The findings give a better picture of their whereabouts and habits, which will help conserve them into the future.

The work was part of the Mammals in a Sustainable Environment (MISE) Project, running in Wales and Ireland since 2011. Project partners are gathering in Aberystwyth tomorrow (Saturday May 9), to discuss the findings in an event hosted by Natural Resources Wales and the Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Dr Liz Halliwell, Mammal Ecologist and MISE Project Manager for NRW said:

“We’ve detected harvest mice at a site on Anglesey for the first time and confirmed previous records at Cors Geirch on the Llyn Peninsula and Brynddu in north Anglesey. We’ve discovered a new, genetically distinct type of Welsh red squirrel in northeast Wales. And, by installing nest boxes at a woodland in the Conwy Valley, we’ve found dormice at a site where there were no previous records.”

Otter surveyors along the Dwyryd River collected nearly 900 spraints (or otter droppings). Using cutting edge DNA technology, scientists could then identify the sex of the animal and also individual otters from the spraints to estimate the size of the population. Surprisingly the majority of the spraints collected were left by female otters. Information on the number of individuals present is being collated.

Other key species surveyed were bats, stoats, weasels and pine martens. Bat detectors have been installed on StenaLine ferries to track migrating bats between Wales and Ireland during spring and autumn. The recordings will be analysed in the next few weeks.

Liz added:

“This project is contributing to conserving and enhancing our native mammals whilst creating opportunities for people to learn more about their local environment by taking part in conservation work outdoors.”

MISE is delivered in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, The Vincent Wildlife Trust and Snowdonia National Park Authority, in Wales, and the Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford City and County Council and the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Ireland.

About Mammals in a Sustainable Environment (MISE)

MISE is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Programme 2007-13.

Natural Resources Wales manages the project in North Wales, covering an area as far east as Wrexham and as far south as Machynlleth. The Vincent Wildlife Trust manages the project in West Wales.

For more information go to

Organisations that are involved in MISE logos

Organisations that are involved in MISE logos

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