- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man who said he shot a mother bear and her two cubs on his property to defend his family has been convicted of illegally killing them.

Robert Ehling, 76, of Sparta, was also found guilty Thursday of a weapons offense. Municipal Court Judge James Devine, who said Ehling committed “acts of a vigilante,” also ordered him to pay more than $4,000 in penalties, the New Jersey Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1PYPwrt ).

The judge said there was no indication that even a game warden or police officer would have had the right to shoot the bears. Devine said Ehling “became the aggressor” when he opened fire on the bears on his back deck in 2014.

“There was no provocation,” Devine said. “He wasn’t being threatened by these bears.”

Defense attorney George Daggett said he’s going to recommend that his client appeal the judge’s decision. Ehling had maintained that he was trying to protect himself and his wife.

“If we had been talking about humans here, there wouldn’t have been a case,” Daggett said. “They were trying to get into the house. If it had been a man with his two sons trying to get in, no matter what, no case.”

Ehling wasn’t in court Thursday. His attorney said he was vacationing in Florida.

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Information from: The New Jersey Herald (Newton, N.J.), http://www.njherald.com

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