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NJ Man who Shoots 3 Problem Bears gets $4,000+ Fines and Fees

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By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(
In October, 2014, a 76-year-old New Jersey resident shot three problem bears on his property.  One was an adult sow that was on his deck and looking in through his sliding glass door.  The location of the two juvenile bears when they were shot, is disputed, but was either on the deck or close to it.  Bears are more dangerous as they are larding up for the winter hibernation.

Bears that display this level of familiarity with humans, who associate humans with food, are a severe problems waiting to happen.  It is why the conservation community has come up with a well used phrase: A fed bear is a dead bear.

Judge James G. Devine handed down the fines against Robert Ehling on the 28th of January, 2016.  I found the judges attitude a bit disturbing in one particular sense.  He thought that Robert C. Ehling acted as a “vigilante”.  From

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP — A Sparta man was found guilty of illegally killing three bears and possession of a loaded firearm within 450 feet of an occupied dwelling on Thursday and ordered to pay a total of $4,332 in civil penalties and restitution.

The verdict and fines were levied against Robert C. Ehling by Municipal Court Judge James Devine, who called the 76-year-old man’s actions on Oct. 10, 2014, the acts of “a vigilante, usurping the right of the state.”

Wow.  New Jersey is one of the most anti-Second Amendment states in the Union.  They have effectively nullified the Second Amendment if you can be fined for mere possession of a loaded firearm, on your own property, while you are defending your property from bears.

As a matter of policy, bears that exhibit the behaviour of these three should be shot.  They were going to cause a serious problem, sooner or later.

Robert C. Ehling brought part of the legal problem on himself by not reporting the shooting, and by what looked like an attempt to dispose of the bodies.  A police officer, called by neighbors, testified that Ehling was dragging one of the juvenile bears’ body toward a nearby ravine when the officer arrived.

The attempt practically screams of a failure of the “SSS” policy often suggested by Internet commandos – Shoot – Shovel – Shut up. Such a policy is often very difficult to follow in practice. In this case, Ehring seems to have neighbors who dislike him. It is a sad place to find yourself, but many find themselves there. Fortunately, Bob Ehring dos not appear to be a pauper. His house in New Jersey is likely paid for, and commands a very nice view. I wish him the best of luck. He may have technically violated the law, but as they say, in some cases, the law is not just, fair, or reasonable. He likely saved some other person a nasty episode with one of those human acclimated bears.

Ehring’s lawyer has recommended an appeal to a state Superior Court.  Ehring appears to be fighting the case on principle; it is hard to believe that the legal costs will be less than the fines involved.

c2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.


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    • srsly1

      Sorry, the guy got what he deserves with this. There was no mention of damage to his property or livestock. It sounds to me like the bears just wandered through his property and he shot them. This is not self defense nor protection of property. This is why we have wildlife officers, who will evaluate the situation and take the necessary actions, whether that be dispatching the animals or relocating them.

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