Why hunters are backing the kārearea/NZ falcon for Bird of the Year

Hunters are supporting the kārearea/NZ falcon.
Hunters are supporting the kārearea/NZ falcon. Photo credit: Getty

The country's hunting community has weighed in with their pick for bird of the year, throwing their support behind the kārearea/NZ falcon.

Voting in the popular Bird of the Year competition, run by Forest & Bird, opened on Monday and runs until November 15.

Last year the hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, was named the most popular bird but if hunters' preference is anything to go by the kārearea could be in the running this year.

In a poll run by the Game Animal Council, the NZ Deerstalkers Association, and Hunters for Conservation, the bird was chosen over another community favourite, the whio, by 62 percent of participants.

Gwyn Thurlow, of NZ Deerstalkers Association, said the community was drawn to the bird as it is "New Zealand's original hunter".

"Personally, I am a big fan of the whio," Thurlow said on Monday. 

"However, the hunting community has spoken and to be honest it won't be too difficult to vote for the kārearea in the Bird of the Year as it is New Zealand’s original hunter and it is pretty cool seeing one out hunting."

"Many people probably won’t recall but the kārearea won Bird of the Year back in 2012, and I don’t think there has ever been a repeat winner, so if hunters could push it over the top it would be a wee bit of history."

Tim Gale, of the Game Animal Council, said the competition is a "bit of fun after what has been a pretty trying last six months or so".

"Regardless of which bird wins, Bird of the Year is a great opportunity to inspire and educate New Zealanders on the importance of preserving our native species and just how precious they are."

The hunting groups' support of the competition comes despite there being occasional friction between hunting organisations and certain aspects of conservation policy, said Jason Van Beers, of Hunters for Conservation.

"There may always be aspects of conservation policy that hunting organisations do not agree with Forest & Bird on and vice versa, and it is really easy to get hung up on those," he said.

"However, we have far more in common than is frequently acknowledged as can be evidenced by the thousands of volunteer hours hunters undertake as part of conservation projects every year."

People can vote for their favourite bird here.