NZ falcon/kārearea
Image: Shellie Evans | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is asking the public for information after a threatened and protected kārearea/New Zealand falcon was found dying from a bullet wound in central Gisborne.

Date:  19 June 2020

The wounded kārearea was taken to a vet where it unfortunately died. A necropsy by Massey University’s Wildbase revealed a small injury on the chest to be a bullet wound, likely from a .22 calibre firearm.

Kārearea are fully protected by law, with penalties of up to two years of imprisonment and a $100,000 fine for harming one.

“It’s despicable that someone would deliberately shoot such a spectacular and rare bird,” says DOC East Coast Operations Manager John Lucas.

“We are really keen to find out who did this. We have been carrying out our own investigations, but any information the public can share with us would be a huge help.

“It is totally unacceptable for anyone to shoot a kārearea and if DOC can find out who has done this we will have no hesitation in prosecuting them.”

Kārearea are endemic to New Zealand and are one of the country’s most spectacular birds. They can fly at speeds up to 100 km/hr and are built with agility to manoeuvre and crash through dense bush, making them an efficient hunter.

The population is under threat, with less than 4,000 pairs estimated to be left in the wild, making them rarer than kiwi.   

Sanctuaries are supplementing populations in several areas around New Zealand to ensure kārearea do not disappear from the wild.

The bird’s body will be returned to Gisborne where the feathers will be available for cultural purposes.

DOC appreciates any help from the public to discourage this behaviour and are grateful to the person who reported this particular incident.

To report information or any injured native wildlife, ring 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Further information

One of 38 species of falcon worldwide, the kārearea/New Zealand falcon is endemic to this country.

The falcon has a wide distribution, being found on both the North and South Islands and several offshore islands, including Stewart Island/Rakiura and the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Recently, plantation pine forests have been found to be important breeding habitats for falcons. The highest known density of the species is found in Kaingaroa pine forest in the central North Island.

Adult New Zealand falcons measure between 40 cm and 50 cm. Males are smaller than females. Males weigh between 240 g and 350 g, while females weigh between 410 g and 720 g.

Their population is uncertain but likely between 5,000–8,000.

Their main threats are predation, habitat loss, disturbance, development impacts, human persecution and electrocution.


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