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NAPLES (AP) — Ranchers could be key to restoring Florida’s growing panther population.

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The News-Press reports a University of Florida study on panther depredation on livestock says farmers are more concerned about coyotes than they are big cats, and most of the farmers who responded are in favor of preserving the Sunshine State’s official animal.

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The state has been working on a program to compensate ranchers for cattle lost to panthers, and the study says compensating farmers for the amount of panther habitat they maintain could be the most effective way to approach the issue.

This type of compensation program would help offset livestock lost to panthers and encourage property owners to maintain panther habitat, which includes some agriculture lands.

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