A PROJECT to help one of Britain's most endangered mammals to survive is being launched in the Yorkshire Dales.

Highways for dormice are being created in an area teeming with wildlife, at a cost of around £123,000.

The money will help plant more than 1,700 metres of hedgerows in mid-Wensleydale to ensure the survival of the hazel dormouse - one of the country’s most endangered mammals.

A report by the People's Trust for Endangered Species last year found numbers of dormice had fallen by almost 40 per cent, nationally, since 2000 due to "fragmented habitats" and a loss of woodland and hedgerows.

The creatures are usually found in hedgerows and woods, where they weave ball-like nests over the summer before hibernating at ground level between October and May.

Conservationists say dormice are difficult to find as two sizeable fields can contain as few as four dormice.

During the next three years, grants of £75,000 from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and nearly £48,000 from Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust will be used to fund the scheme.

Dormice had become extinct in the region, but after reintroductions in 2008 and 2016 they have once again gained a foothold and have thrived in a small area in the east of the national park.

Project officer Phill Hibbs said: “The new funds are a huge boost for our efforts to join together the fragmented dormouse habitat in mid-Wensleydale.

“The two hazel woodlands which have seen successful dormice reintroduction – Freeholders Wood near Aysgarth and a site nearby – will become linked with dormouse-friendly hedgerows, so that populations can spread out.”

The team plans to contact landowners - who can apply for grants - to see how they can work together to plant new woodland and hedgerows.

The project area runs on the north side of the River Ure from the west of Carperby to Castle Bolton.

Ian White, from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said: “Seeing dormice restored to their historic home in the past few years has been very exciting.

“The importance of the Wensleydale Dormouse Project is underlined by the precarious state of Britain’s dormice population.

Landowners and local residents can find out more about the project at a talk at Carperby Village Institute at 7pm on Tuesday, September 12.