NEWTON - The trial of a 78-year-old Sussex County man who shot and killed three bears from his deck concluded Monday.
Robert Ehling of Sparta says he and his wife feared for their safety when she saw a black bear at the window of their deck door.
“Do you know how frightening that is for a 78-year-old woman?” asked Ehling’s wife Helen while testifying.
Ehling says he went outside and shot the first bear, and almost immediately saw that a second bear had climbed onto his deck. He shot that bear, too.
Minutes later, Ehling testifies that he saw a third bear approach his yard and this bear started to growl. He says that he shot and killed that bear, as well.
Ehling testifies that it was only after he killed the three bears did he realize it was a mother and her two cubs.
State officials issued Ehling summonses for killing bears out of hunting season. They say the animals were attracted by bird seed on his property.
The local prosecutor said that Ehling should have done more to scare off the animals.
“No clapping, no banging, you didn't even shoot the gun in the air,” the prosecutor said.
The judge is expected to make a decision on the case next month. If convicted, Ehling faces fines and restitution up to $2,000 for each bear.