Public perception of bats has historically been largely negative with bats often portrayed as carriers of disease. Bats are commonly associated with vampire lore and thus elicit largely fearful reactions despite the fact that they are a vital and valuable part of the ecosystem. Bats provide a variety of essential services from pest control to plant pollination. Despite the benefits of bats to the environment and the economy, bats are suffering at the hands of humans. They are victims of turbines, human encroachment, pesticides, and, most recently, white nose syndrome. Because of their critical importance to the environment, humans should do what they can to help protect bats. We propose that humans will be more likely to do so if their perceptions and attitudes toward bats can be significantly improved. In a preliminary study we found some support for the idea that people can be educated about bats through bat oriented events and exhibits, and that this greater knowledge can inspire humans to act to save bats.
Keywords: Chiropteran; attitudes; bats; conservation; human harm; knowledge.