Clinton orders real 'X-Files' on aliens

THE UNITED States is being invaded by aliens and President Bill Clinton has declared war on them. His counter-offensive, dubbed the X- File order, is an attempt to stop the country being taken over by such invaders as the Hydrilla, the Walking Catfish and the Leafy Splurge.

Instead of Mulder and Scully, the President has named three of his most senior ministers to head a new Invasive Species Council. "There is no question that we are being invaded by alien species," said Under-Secretary James Baker. "We could call this order the X-Files order." Another member, Bruce Babbitt, the Interior Secretary, added: "The costs to the economy are racing out of control."

Nearly half of the country's endangered species are being threatened with extinction by the invaders, introduced to the US either directly by gardeners and pet owners or accidentally through trade and international travel. The leafy splurge, a weed from Europe and Asia, now plagues more than three million acres of rangeland in the western prairies. A Chinese ant is chomping its way through buildings in California. And the zebra mussel, again from Asia, has done more than $5bn (pounds 3.1m) of damage by clogging pipes in 19 states after arriving in the Great Lakes region aboard freighters.

There is nothing new about invading species. In 1980 an eccentric American introduced 60 starlings to New York Central Park on the strength of their being mentioned once in the works of Shakespeare - in a single line in Henry IV Part I. Now more than 200 million of them plague the country.

But what has alarmed the government is the range and rapid spread of the invaders. There are thousands of alien species in the US and the number is rapidly growing, according to leading Harvard biologist Edward Wilson.

The Asian gypsy moth, a threat to US forests, has been turning up in the Pacific north-west after arriving on grain carriers from East Asia. The moths are particularly drawn to the wavelength emitted by the ships lamps, and fly, dazzled in their beams, all the way across the Pacific. The Asian walking catfish and 20 species of lizards, all brought in by the pet trade, are spreading through Florida, while hydrilla, a popular aquarium plant, is now clogging up nearly half of the nation's rivers and lakes. And the European green crab, brought in in ships' ballast water, is devastating native shellfish in San Francisco Bay.

David Wilcove, senior ecologist at the US Environmental Defense Fund, calls the invasions the least recognised threat to wildlife today. But it is not all one way. North American crayfish are wiping out their European cousins; a jellyfish from the US has devastated the Black Sea, and the ruddy dove, brought to Britain by the great naturalist Sir Peter Scott, is killing off a native relative.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory