So why do some people still experience chiroptophobia, or fear of bats? It could be simply because bats are nocturnal, which automatically puts them at odds with humans, Jarvis said.
"People tend to be afraid of the things that are nocturnal because we're daytime creatures, and things that are active at night tend to freak us out a little," she said.
Several North American bat populations, particularly those that hibernate in caves, are also facing a recently uncovered health threat: white-nose syndrome. This disease is caused by a fungus that invades the bats' skin tissues during hibernation and causes extensive damage, according to the National Wildlife Health Center, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Despite efforts to contain it, the disease has killed millions of bats in 22 states and in Canada since it emerged in 2008, the wildlife center said.
Jarvis said the deadly disease could push some bat species toward endangerment or, worse, to extinction.
"Now is the time that they need support more than ever," she said. "They need understanding; they need people who are dedicated to conservation."
Younker writes for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe.