Jordan Gerbich sentenced to three months jail for fatally shooting an elephant seal along breeding grounds at California’s Piedras Blancas Reserve.
A former California resident has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for fatally shooting a protected elephant seal in the state, authorities said.
Jordan Gerbich, 30, formerly of Santa Maria was sentenced on Monday for killing the marine mammal in September 2019 at an elephant seal viewing area near the Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve in San Simeon, federal prosecutors said.
Along with three months prison, Gerbich’s sentence is to be followed by three months’ home detention. He will be on supervised release for one year, have to perform 120 hours of community service, and pay a $1,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.
Gerbich, who now lives in Coalville, Utah, pleaded guilty last December to one count of illegally taking a marine mammal. Leading up to his sentencing, Gerbich faced a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.
He used a .45-caliber pistol to shoot and kill the seal resting on the beach in the Piedras Blancas rookery, according to his plea agreement. The bullet landed in the mammal’s head.
It’s FriYAY! Piedras Blancas Rookery is the only elephant seal rookery in the world that is easily accessible, free & open to the public every day. Also, it is just down the road from the BLM-managed Piedras Blancas Light Station. #DiscovertheCoast #VisitCalifornia pic.twitter.com/rDW2P3Rrmo
— Bureau of Land Management California (@BLMca) December 14, 2018
Protected species face risks
Northern elephant seals — a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act — live up and down the Pacific coast, usually gathering in areas on land called rookeries to breed.
The main threats that the mammals face include getting tangled in fishing gear and being hit by ships, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Not immediately clear is what led to Gerbich arriving along breeding grounds with the intent to kill one of the sea mammals.