Most people probably know more about Batman — the fictional, big-screen superhero — than they do about bats, a diverse group of flying mammals.

Bats are in trouble, and conservation superheroes from across North America are coming to the rescue.

Top environmental officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed in April on a continentwide, cooperative research and collaboration effort to save the winged mammals.

Bats face a wide range of threats. Human activities are encroaching on the places they live, what they eat and how they migrate. Bats across North America are also under attack by a fungus that causes a fatal disease called white-nose syndrome.

A researcher inspects a bat for white-nose syndrome. (USFWS)

The new agreement is designed to better integrate efforts already underway by government agencies, environmental organizations, scientists, industry and others across North America.

Under the pact, conservation agencies will do more to exchange information and tools about saving bats and the habitats that support them. The environmental agencies will create incentives to encourage more habitat conservation and restoration by private landholders.

North American officials also agreed to improve current efforts to manage natural resources effectively and to better educate the public about the importance of these resources.

Here are some reasons bats are important to the world’s ecosystems:

  • Bats eat insects — as many as 5,000 each night.

  • Fewer pests mean farmers use fewer pesticides, producing safer food.

  • Bats pollinate plants and disperse seeds, allowing regrowth of plants, fruit trees and forests.

Despite the myths, bats are not dangerous, dirty or aggressive toward people.

Nongovernmental organizations offer advice on what you can do to support bats in your region. Won’t you try?