SHOOTERS will be at the forefront of conserving the UK’s protected dormouse population thanks to a grant of £84,000 secured by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

The money will be used by BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, to create and link new habitats in Cheshire where it is hoped the mammals will thrive side by side with game shooting.

Dormice have disappeared from most of the north of England and are extremely rare in Cheshire.

One of the other top achievements of BASC’s Green Shoots conservation programme was the discovery of the first evidence of native dormice in Cheshire for 100 years. The grant will help BASC’s efforts to try and increase dormouse numbers in the county.

BASC’s Green Shoots team secured the funding from SITA Trust to launch a new scheme – The South West Cheshire Dormouse Project.

The project will create a 17km length of connected habitat between a dormouse population in the Wych Valley and the Sandstone Ridge, via woodland near Tilston where BASC discovered a dormouse nest on a member’s shoot.

Woodland and hedgerows connected together form corridors for wildlife across farmland.

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity projects, said: “This is a practical demonstration of the value of conservation work carried out on shoots and farms. Management for dormice is complementary to game and rough shooting so BASC members and farmers in the project will see a direct benefit to their shooting interests because game birds will also thrive in the habitat created for the dormice.”