It seems our visiting bear buddy got a little too comfortable.

The 2-year-old black bear hanging around Joplin since the first of July was captured in a tree last week near 11th Street and Willard Avenue, which was no coincidence. The nose knows.

That particular intersection is a stone’s throw from a fast food taco spot, three burger joints and at least as many pizza places. The bear had gotten a taste for the easy life. He spent his days rummaging through trash cans for leftovers, knocking over backyard beehives and becoming a general nuisance to local landowners.

He got bolder, moving closer into the city, unafraid of humans. After all, we had the easy food — the salty, yummy stuff he didn’t have to hunt or gather for. And this is why the Missouri Department of Conservation made the decision to euthanize the bear: He had become habituated to humans and their food.

He’d become a nuisance at homes south of Joplin, ruining the work of people who had made habitats for our dwindling bee population, making a mess of garbage receptacles and chasing down chickens of those doing their best to live off the land. A bear is dangerous when it associates humans with food. He couldn’t live with us, but he couldn’t live without us.

No one is happy with the decision. Locals are up in arms, and I’m sure the MDC wasn’t happy about it either. They are in the business of protecting our wildlife. The estimated population of black bears in Missouri is 350; the goal is 500. The MDC wants more bears. There was no good answer.

His mother pushed him out of her location in order for him to find his independence. Tough love. Unfortunately, he found us instead.

From what I understand, rescue facilities weren’t an option because older bears wouldn’t have some spoiled youngster coming in.

The Ozarks, a native habitat for black bears, was here first. If anyone is responsible for that bear’s demise, it’s us.

This is a tough lesson. Left to their own devices, bears eat seeds, nuts, tree roots, ants, crickets, fish, frogs and rodents. Acorns, small mammals, honey and grasshoppers are good too.

We unintentionally lured this bear with our easy living. We should take advantage of human invention, but fast food is a stretch. Take it easy on yourself and wildlife with less waste and more nutrition; try these recipes for quick, healthy meals.


Lightened-up butternut squash mac and cheese

12 ounces elbow pasta

1/2 medium butternut squash, pureed

1 1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons paprika

2 heads of broccoli, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bacon pieces (optional, for topping)

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, peel and cube the butternut squash. Place in a blender along with the milk and puree. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a medium to large pot for about 5 minutes. Add the pureed squash. Cook for about 7 minutes.

Place the chopped broccoli in a colander and drain the pasta on top of the broccoli. Rinse with cold water, then add to the cooked squash puree. Add in the cheese, paprika, and salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the cheese has melted.

Recipe adapted from


Beef and beans sloppy Joes

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 ounces lean ground beef

1 cup black beans, rinsed

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons chile powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned but not completely cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a medium bowl, reserving drippings in the pan. Add beans and onion to the pan; cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard and brown sugar.

Return the beef to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the beef cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Serve on buns.

Recipe adapted from


Bruschetta grilled chicken

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness

3 slicing tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

4 slices mozzarella

Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

In a small bowl, combine oil, half the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Italian seasoning (or oregano) and whisk to combine. Transfer to a large resealable bag along with chicken; seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat grill over medium-high, then add chicken, discarding excess marinade. Grill until charred and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and remaining lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

While chicken is still on grill, top each breast with 1 slice mozzarella and cover until cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Top chicken with tomato mixture. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Recipe adapted from

Amanda Stone works in educational services, marketing and special features at the Globe. Contact her at 417-627-7288 or email her at

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.