ANDOVER TOWNSHIP - A Sussex County man who said that he shot three bears on his property to defend himself and his wife 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 ordered him to pay more than $4,000 in penalties.

Devine says that Ehling’s actions in 2014 were those of a vigilante, and that there was no indication that even a game warden or police officer would have had the right to shoot the bears. 

The judge says that Ehling wasn't being threatened.

Defense attorney George Dagget says he's going to recommend that his client appeal the judge's decision.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.