The long-tailed bat has been included into the 2021 NEw Zealand Bird of the Year competition.
In an announcement on Monday morning, the Forest and Bird Society , said the long-tailed bat, pekapeka-tou-roa, will be part of the 75 native birds in this year’s competiton.
It is the first time a land mammal has made the final cut.
The New Zealan dBird of the Year Award is in its 16th year. More than 55,000 verified votes were cast in last year’s competition, with the kākāpō taking out the top spot.
The controversial move to include bats in the native bird competition is sure to ruffle some feathers.
Department of Conservation senior ranger Rob Carson-Iles said the long-tailed bat was critically endangered, “the next stop on that continuum is extinction”.
However, the inclusion has been welcomed in South Canterbury, where about 300 long-tailed bat live, the only population on the east coast of the South Island.