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.

Legislation

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.

Licensing

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.

Conservation

If you would like to undertake management or restoration of sites with dormice, you will usually need a conservation licence.

Apply for a survey licence

If you want to apply for a survey licence and have not had one before, you will need to show that you have the necessary training and experience. You will need to submit your completed survey and conservation licence application form.

Reference form

If you have not held a relevant licence from us before, your application must include a reference form.

Referees must be:

  • able to comment on their experience of working with the relevant species
  • their ability to use the methods and equipment proposed within your licence application
  • qualified themselves and must have held a relevant licence before
  • must have experience of your work for at least one survey season

We can only accept one reference from the company you currently work for. We may contact your referees to verify their statements.

Who can apply for a licence

Find out who can apply for a protected species licence

Renew your licence and report on your activities

If you want to renew your licence or report on the activities you have carried out under your licence, you will need to complete the survey licence reporting and renewal application form.

Amend your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.

Amendment request form
Change of licensee
Change of ecologist form

Contact us

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

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