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Man gets prison for killing California elephant seal

April 12, 2021 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man was sentenced Monday to three months in federal prison for shooting a protected northern elephant seal to death on the central California coast near San Simeon.

A Los Angeles federal judge also sentenced Jordan Gerbich, 30, to a year of supervised release after his prison term, three months of home detention, 120 hours of community service and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Gerbich, who lived in Santa Maria at the time and now lives in Coalville, Utah, pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor count of illegally taking a marine mammal, the office said.

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Northern elephant seals are massive animals found along North America’s Pacific coast and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They haul out on beach areas known as rookeries.

According to prosecutors, Gerbich drove to an elephant seal viewing area near the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Sept. 28, 2019.

He used a .45-caliber pistol to shoot the elephant seal, which was found the next day with a bullet hole in its head.

The prosecution sentencing memorandum said the motive remained unclear but Gerbich knew it was wrong.