Man on Trial for Killing 3 Bears Says It Was Self Defense

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -

A 78-year-old man on trial for fatally shooting a bear and her two cubs out of season told a judge Monday he was defending his wife and himself.

Robert Ehling said that the mother was scratching at a sliding door on Oct. 16, 2014, and was attracted to a 40-pound bag of bird seed inside.

Robert Driscoll, a conservation officer for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, testified that there were no signs the bears were trying to get into the home and no damage to the door.

“He said he shot it because it was on his deck,” said Driscoll, who had been called to the home by police.

Ehling told Driscoll the bear was more than 21 feet away when he fired his first shot and less than 11 feet away after he advanced and fired a second, final shot, Driscoll said.

Ehling acknowledged putting out birdseed, which bears also like eating, the conservation officer said. Two neighbors testified they were fearful because Ehling had been seen carrying a gun on his property on a few other occasions.

One neighbor, Barbara Stote, added that bears were also a common sight.

“There are always bears in our neighborhood walking around,” Stote said.