Beloved by fans of Beatrix Potter books, the tiny harvest mouse has now made a comeback in the Hampshire village where they were first discovered in 1767, thanks to conservation work by local farmers and volunteers.
More than 150 nests of the tiny mammal have been spotted around the village of Selborne, Hampshire, which is the birthplace of the famous naturalist Gilbert White, who was responsible for distinguishing micromys minutus, or the Harvest Mouse, as a species in 1767.
The Selborne Farmer Cluster, a group formed of local farmers and volunteers, conducted surveys of field mice nests and carried out vital work such as hedge laying, hedge planting and the maintenance of grass headlands around arable fields to create habitats for birds, small mammals and insects.
Announcing the discovery earlier today (Friday 22 January) Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, said: “As an avid reader of Beatrix Potter in my youth I’m delighted that the iconic Harvest Mouse has been rediscovered in the very area in which it was first identified.”
Truss added: “The Selborne farmer cluster is a great example of responsible landowners thinking beyond their own fields, meadows and woodlands and looking at the wider landscape to deliver greater environmental benefits on a larger scale.
“This approach to land management is at the heart of our 25-year Environment Plan, which will bring people together to work in a more co-ordinated way to conserve and enhance the environment. Without a healthy environment, we won’t have a healthy farming industry.”
One of nine clusters within England, the Selborne group consists of 11 farmers, covers 4,000 hectares and is led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. It also works with the South Downs National Park as part of the Selborne Landscape Partnership.