Morning headlines - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23, 2012

Mo. mountain lions are visitors, not natives

The number of mountain lion sightings in the state of Missouri is on the rise, and DNA tests show some of them are visiting from other states.

The Missouri Conservation Department confirmed 14 mountain lion sightings last year – that’s up from a total of 12 in the previous 16 years.

The department says it was able to recover DNA from four of the 14 cats sighted and test it against mountain lion databases kept by 11 western states.

The results show that two young males came from the Black Hills area of South Dakota. A third had relatives in Colorado, and a fourth was traced to central Montana.

Mo. farmers worried about dry, hot weather

The recent dry heat and abnormally high temperatures are threatening the corn crop in Missouri.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the condition is known as a “flash drought.”

Some areas of the Bootheel are already experiencing moderate to severe drought – and the state’s climatologist says without rain in the next two or three weeks, some crops could begin to die off.

Last year, grain farmers in the state lost an estimated $350 million, and the US Department of Agriculture declared 101 of the state’s 115 counties disaster areas because of drought conditions.

First West Nile infections found in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s found the first West Nile virus infections in birds and mosquitoes this year.

The department says a crow collected in Chicago on May 16, and batches of mosquitoes collected in Cook and DuPage counties on May 17, all tested positive. The first positive results last year came in on June 8.

The Department’s director, LaMar Hasbrouck, says the samples are a reminder to people to be cautious heading into the Memorial Day weekend.