Hazel dormice: protection and licences

What you must do to avoid harming hazel dormice and when you’ll need a licence.

Applies to England

Hazel dormice, their breeding sites and resting places are protected by law.

You may be able to get a licence from Natural England if you can’t avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats.

What you must not do

You’re breaking the law if you do certain things including:

  • deliberately capture, injure or kill hazel dormice
  • damage or destroy a dormouse resting place or breeding site
  • deliberately or recklessly disturb a hazel dormouse while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection
  • block access to structures or places of shelter or protection
  • possess, sell, control or transport live or dead hazel dormice, or parts of hazel dormice

Any of the following could happen if you’re found guilty of any offence:

  • you could get an unlimited fine
  • you could be sent to prison for up to 6 months

Activities that can harm hazel dormice

Hazel dormice can be affected by:

  • handling
  • disturbance, eg noise and light, woodland and hedgerow management
  • habitat removal, clearing woodland and removing hedgerows
  • habitat fragmentation and isolation

In most cases you should be able to avoid harming the hazel dormice, damaging or blocking access to their habitats.

If you can’t avoid this and you’re doing development work, you can apply for a mitigation licence from Natural England. You’ll need expert help.

Find out what you need to do for surveys and when planning mitigation measures for hazel dormice.

Find out what’s involved for construction that affects protected species.

If you’re planning any other activities to study or conserve dormice and you can’t avoid handling or disturbing them, you can apply for a science and conservation licence from Natural England.

Published 6 October 2014
Last updated 29 March 2015 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance following full consultation with Natural England experts.

  2. The link for more detail on surveys and mitigation is now higher up in the guide.

  3. First published.