You must apply for a licence from Natural Resources Wales if you’re doing any work that affects a protected species in Wales. This includes:

  • disturbing, trapping or handling protected species
  • damaging their habitats, for example by restoring a pond or building a housing development

The Hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius is protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, known as the ‘Habitats Regulations’. This is because dormice have declined throughout Europe in recent decades. This information is focused on dormouse licensing in Wales and is not a comprehensive review of the ecology or the law relating to dormice.

Dormice can be affected by a range of activities including hedgerow work, road schemes, housing developments or woodland operations.


Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS
  • Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species
  • Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal

Disturbance includes, but is not limited to, any disturbance which is likely:

  • to impair their ability –
    • To survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
    • In the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
  • To affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong

Defra and the Welsh Government will publish a joint guidance document on the interpretation of the offences relating to disturbance and to damage and destruction of breeding sites and resting places.

There are other offences relating to the possession, transport, sell or exchange a protected species.


NRW issues licences under Regulation 55 of the Habitats Regulations to allow you to work within the law. We issue them for specific purposes stated in the Regulations, if the following three tests are met:

  • The purpose of the work meets one of those listed in the Habitats Regulations
  • That there is no satisfactory alternative
  • That the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status (FCS) in their natural range

Licensing purposes

The Habitats Regulations permits licences to be issued for a specific set of purposes including:

  • Include preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of over-riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment
  • Scientific and educational purposes
  • Ringing or marking
  • Conserving wild animals

Scientific or Educational

You will need a licence to take or disturb a dormouse, or damage or obstruct access to a breeding or resting place, in order to carry out any kind of research or detailed survey. We can also issue licences for ringing or marking, including fitting radio tracking tags and passive inductive transponder (PIT) tags. Licensing these more invasive techniques requires a detailed project method statement. If you are working towards your own survey licence, please see the attached Dormouse Training Log.

When you can apply for a licence

Find out who can apply for a protected species licence

Method statement

If you are carrying out any development work or doing any work in woodlands or forests, you will need to complete a method statement:

Development licence method statement

Forestry and woodland method statement

The method statement forms part of your licence application.

Ecological compliance

You may be asked to submit an ecological compliance audit form if you're proposing a large development scheme, or a scheme that has a higher risk for protected species. These requirements will be a condition of your licence.

Apply for a protected species licence

If you cannot avoid disturbing protected species, or damaging their breeding sites and resting places, you can apply for a licence for a range of different activities:

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.

Last updated