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Pythons are squeezing the life out of the Everglades, scientists warn

Independent: If you go down to the Florida Everglades today, you're in for a big surprise: in the past 12 years, 90 per cent of the wild mammals which once roamed freely through the National Park have gone. Snakes are to blame, say scientists. Big ones. Specifically: an exponentially-growing population of Giant Burmese Pythons, which can grow up to 16 feet long and have a huge appetite. The creatures were first discovered in the park in 2000. They got there after being released into the wild by overwhelmed...

Wildfires rage out of control across Texas

Independent: More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in wildfires sweeping across rural Texas -- and the biggest of the blazes is still completely uncontained, state officials have admitted. Powerful gusts of wind from Tropical Storm Lee continued to fan the flames last night, making it virtually impossible for emergency services to gain an upper hand on the unfolding disaster. About 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, has taken time out from campaigning...

Texas forces firms to open up on ‘fracking’

Independent: As the spiritual home of big oil, Texas may fairly be seen to be to environmentalism what its official food, chilli con carne, is to vegetarianism. But that hasn't stopped the state becoming the first corner of America to require energy firms to disclose information about the chemicals they are pumping into the ground in order to release natural gas during the hugely controversial process of "hydraulic fracking". The Lone Star state's Governor, Rick Perry, quietly signed a law last week which...

Californians set to outlaw gold prospecting

Independent: There's gold in them thar hills. It built the city of San Francisco, and inspired generations of Americans to call California the "Golden State". But if local lawmakers get their way, making a living from the stuff is about to become nigh-on impossible. Just 162 years after history's greatest gold rush, the state's last remaining prospectors are about to have their way of life declared illegal, amid a long-running battle with salmon-loving environmentalists. At issue is the practice of suction-dredging,...