Florida Ranchers Give Returning Panthers a Break

Their cows are disappearing, but they're working with conservationists
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2011 9:05 AM CDT
A Florida panther is seen in this file photo.   (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

(Newser) – Florida’s endangered panther population has come a long way; thirty years ago there were just 20 of the big cats left, whereas now there are more than 160 of them. That’s the good news. The bad news? Panthers will be panthers, and Florida ranchers are reporting increasing deaths of their oh-so-tasty livestock. But instead of calling for the cats’ heads, farmers are actually working with conservationists to make the panthers' return a success, Fast Company reports.

“Florida cattle ranchers understand that a balance needs to be reached,” says the owner of one 9,000-acre ranch. “We will do our part.” One conservation group has already set up a pilot program to pay farmers for devoured cattle, and government agencies are considering a $25,000 fund to do the same. The University of Florida has also promised a study on the panthers’ effect on ranching. If all goes well, this could be a model of predator reintroduction for years to come.

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