NEW YORK, OCT. 11 -- A bat conservation group trying to save the winged creatures by marketing "bat houses" as an alternative to bird houses said Sunday they expect sales to be brisk during the Halloween season.

The bat houses, made of rough-sawed western red cedar, are designed as a haven for a variety of North American species and offer separate "bedrooms" that accommodate up to 30 bats at once, according to a spokesman for Bat Conservation International, of Austin, Tex.

The nonprofit group hopes nature lovers will attach them to trees and buildings, just as they do bird houses.

"Put up a house now and you may have bats by next summer," their literature says.

Spokesman Arden Tuttle said the group has sold about 3,000 of the $34.95 bat houses since last year and expects sales to rise this month.

"Halloween gets people to thinking about bats," Tuttle said in a telephone interview. "Bats are so important and so needed and yet their decline is incredible."

The bat house is about the size of a large bird house but has no bottom, allowing crevice-seeking bats to climb in from the underside and roost in separate compartments, Tuttle said.