This paper presents a first empirical assessment of carnivore conservation under a performance payment scheme. The Swedish government issues payments to reindeer herder villages based on the number of carnivore offspring certified on their pastures. The villages decide on the internal use and distribution of the payments. It is generally assumed that benefit distribution rules are exogenously given. We develop a model to investigate such rules as endogenous decision. The empirical data reveals that villages’ group size has a direct negative effect on conservation outcomes. However, there is also an indirect positive effect which impacts conservation outcomes through the benefit distribution rule. This result revises the general collective action hypothesis on purely negative effects of group size. The paper concludes that if limited hunting is legal, conservation success strongly depends on villages’ potential for collective action and the benefit distribution rule they choose.