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Bats (Chiroptera) are often viewed negatively by the public. Negative public perceptions of bats may hinder efforts to conserve declining populations. In Belize, the presence of vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus and Diphylla ecaudata) exacerbates the potential for conflicts with humans because of the increased rabies transmission risks. To mitigate these risks, the Belize government provides farmers with assistance to trap and remove vampire bats. In June 2018, we surveyed farmers (n = 44) in and adjacent to the Vaca Forest Reserve in Belize to learn more about their attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with bats. This information may provide new insights and approaches to address farmers’ concerns and enhance bat conservation efforts in Belize. Farmers held negative attitudes toward bats, exhibited low knowledge of their ecosystem services, and supported the trapping and use of toxicants to control bat populations to reduce the risk of rabies transmission between vampire bats and livestock. Farmers with livestock had more negative attitudes toward bats than farmers without livestock. Despite farmers reporting depredation incidences with fruit-eating and vampire bats, farmers expressed more negative attitudes toward vampire bats. We recommend that conservation education efforts target all stakeholders in the reserve to increase awareness about the importance of bats to ecosystems and highlight the dangers of indiscriminate trapping. Cumulatively, this may lead to positive attitude changes toward bats and their conservation.
Shapiro, Hannah G.; Willcox, Adam S.; Tate, Mallory; and Willcox, Emma V.
"Can Farmers and Bats Co-exist? Farmer Attitudes, Knowledge, and Experiences with Bats in Belize,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 14
, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol14/iss1/6