Harvest mice found thriving 15 years after reintroduction efforts

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As an idealistic PhD student, Wendy Fail’s ambition was to reintroduce harvest mice to Northumberland . She painstakingly bred 240 mice in captivity and in 2004 released the elusive mammals on to a coastal nature reserve with plenty of reedbeds for them to hide in. When not a single harvest mouse – Britain’s smallest rodent – was recaptured in subsequent trap surveys, Fail concluded that her efforts to reintroduce them had been unsuccessful. Now, 15 years later, fresh harvest mouse nests have been found for the first time at East Chevington nature reserve , showing that the descendants of Fail’s original harvest mice are in fact thriving. A team of volunteers found two distinctive, orb-shaped nests in dense reedbeds close to where Fail had originally released them. Sophie Webster, of Northumberland Wildlife Trust, who led the search, said: “It was really exciting for everybody. It’s such a big area to search we doubted we would actually find them so it was a real treat.” The nests were woven into grasses a metre (3ft) above ground and contained green leaves showing they were freshly made. Webster is planning a more extensive search of the wider reedbeds, with camera traps and […]

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