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Harvest mice return to Perivale Wood after 45 years

For the first time in 45 years, harvest mice are back in Perivale Wood Local Nature Reserve, the UK’s second oldest nature reserve.

More than 150 harvest mice were reintroduced today as part of the Bringing Harvest Mice Back to Ealing project from Rewild London Fund in partnership with London Wildlife Trust.

Members of the Selborne Society, who own Perivale Wood, joined with project partners Ealing Wildlife Group to release the harvest mice into the wild at Perivale Wood where they were last seen in 1979.  This is now the fifth site in Ealing where harvest mice have been released as part of the Ealing Wildlife Group rewilding project. In total around 1650 harvest mice have now been released across Ealing.

The reintroduction, supported with funding from the Mayor of London and Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund, is aiming to combat the impact of the climate crisis and improve the ecosystem for plant and animal life.

Richard Goddard, chair of the Selborne Society said: “It’s fantastic to be welcoming harvest mice back to Perivale Wood after a 45-year absence. We’ve been working hard to enhance existing habitats at Perivale Wood and improve connections to the nearby release sites at Paradise Fields and Horsenden Meadows.”

Mr Goddard added: “I’m excited to see the improvements we’ve made to small mammal habitats at Perivale Wood, including the creation of a new pond; this will soon provide reed beds, a habitat favoured by harvest mice and many other species. We are hugely grateful to all the Selborne Society volunteers who put in more than 2,000 hours of voluntary work in 2023 to improve our habitats, to Ealing Wildlife Group for bringing us into this rewilding initiative and the volunteers at Horsenden Farm for their incredible hard work breeding the mice in captivity in preparation for their release. This has been the perfect way to celebrate National Mammal Week and Forgotten Mammals.”

Dr Sean McCormack, vet and chair of Ealing Wildlife Group commented: “It’s been really fantastic to see wilder habitat types emerge in the past few years through our collaborative work with Ealing Council, meaning species that have previously been pushed to the edge now have the opportunity to return. Our Rewilding Ealing initiative has seen not only Britain’s smallest native rodent, the Harvest Mouse reintroduced, but also our largest, the Eurasian Beaver.”

Dr McCormack added: “Both projects have now been helped by the Mayor’s Rewild London fund. And these projects are not just about rewilding habitat and reintroducing lost species, but also about rewilding people. By inviting our local communities to take part we’ve seen incredible engagement and a sense of pride and guardianship emerge for our green spaces. We’re delighted to expand our Harvest Mouse project to the wonderful new habitats created at Perivale Wood.”

David Mooney, CEO at London Wildlife Trust said: “London Wildlife Trust is proud to support this excellent project to reintroduce the iconic harvest mice into Perivale Wood, Ealing. The wildlife corridors created through habitat improvements will crucially link new and existing populations, helping to bolster the species’ resilience in the borough.”

Zak Watts, Amazon’s international sustainability director added: “Bringing nature back to the communities where we live and work is a core purpose of Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund. Thank you to all the experts and volunteers who have been working hard over the winter to rewild Perivale Wood and prepare for the harvest mice introduction. Local projects like these are key to improving our capital’s biodiversity challenge and helping Londoners enjoy and connect with nature.”

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