Conservation Science
Northeast Region

Science Seminar Series

July 2014


little brown bat
Little brown bat. Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

1. Date: Tuesday, July 8, noon-1p.m., USFWS Regional Office Large Auditorium This seminar will be broadcast on the internet. You will be able to view the presentation by clicking this link or for closed captioning, please use this link: View the archived video presentation here.

Title: Communicating about conservation and recovery in a risk-laden species.

Presenters: Heidi Kretser, Livelihoods & Conservation Coordinator North America Program, Wildlife Conservation Society

Abstract: Efforts to promote bat conservation must consider ways to communicate with the public about a potentially risk-laden species. We examined current wildlife and public health agency press releases about bats in eight states from 2006-2013.

Findings indicate that public health agencies focused more on human health risks, such as rabies, while rarely mentioning white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease causing precipitous declines in seven species, including two federally endangered species, of bats in the eastern United States.

landowner and Susi von Oettingen
A landowner shows USFWS biologist Susi von Oettingen his barn with
a maternity colony of little brown bats.
Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

Wildlife agencies focused more on WNS with less mention of rabies. These disparities even existed in states with major WNS outbreaks where additional bat species may soon be listed as endangered.

Overall, the inconsistent messages reveal competing priorities of public health and wildlife agencies. Further research needs to examine how the public receives and reacts to potentially conflicting messages from such agencies and the popular media.

This work underscores the need to carefully develop and align communication messages across agencies to promote recovery and conservation for bat species facing an uncertain future due to WNS.


Back to the Science Seminar Series Home Page

Last updated: February 12, 2015