Recovery of the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) depends on habitat conservation on private rangelands. However, cattlemen-panther conflicts and lack of trust in wildlife agencies is undermining panther conservation efforts. Based on semi-structured interviews and group meetings with Florida cattlemen, we examine how cattlemen's land stewardship practices support panther conservation, and causes of conflicts with the panther and wildlife agencies. Given the heterogeneous attitudes of cattlemen and their varying economic conditions, a complementary suite of programs is needed to achieve efficient conservation of the panther and panther habitat. Current and proposed government incentive programs are unlikely to attain the level of habitat conservation required to recover the Florida panther. We suggest that efforts should be made to build social capital and trust by engaging influential cattlemen in panther conservation actions, thereby lending credibility to conservation initiatives and improving the rate of uptake and levels of commitment by other cattlemen. Moreover, providing cattlemen with payments that are contingent on keeping lands as unimproved pasture or wildlife habitat without mandating particular land management practices may be an effective policy alternative.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science