"We believe that both clean energy and wildlife habitat goals can be met when planners take a proactive and collaborative approach."
Defenders of Wildlife is pleased to see newly captured images of a Florida panther, taken by a remote camera set up at the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) Sawgrass Solar Energy Center in Hendry County. These images show that renewable energy projects can be designed in ways that allow wildlife to continue to share the landscape.
“Habitat destruction and fragmentation are the greatest threats facing Florida panthers,” said Elizabeth Fleming, senior Florida representative with Defenders of Wildlife. “That is why it is so critical to keep wildlife in mind when planning a project. We believe that both clean energy and wildlife habitat goals can be met when planners take a proactive and collaborative approach.”
The Florida panther is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Florida panthers once flourished throughout the Southeast. When European settlers arrived in the 1600s, the clear-cutting, building and other human activities that destroy, degrade and fragment habitat began, and the fear and misconceptions that led to panther persecution took root. Today, the panther is recognized as Florida’s official state animal, but it is also one of the most endangered mammals in the country.
Efforts to conserve the Florida panther over the last five decades have allowed the small population to make steady gains. These efforts helped bring about a milestone in panther recovery with female Florida panthers being confirmed in areas north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time in 40 years.
Defenders of Wildlife and the Florida Wildlife Federation have been working in partnership with FPL to ensure that these new solar energy sites are developed “smart from the start” — in ways that avoid and mitigate impacts to wildlife, while promoting coexistence of wildlife and renewable energy.
“We look forward to our continued partnership with Florida Power & Light to help wildlife thrive in the state of Florida as we work towards a clean energy future,” said Fleming.