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Former Santa Maria man sentenced to federal prison for shooting, killing elephant seal near San Simeon

Posted at 11:44 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 14:44:41-04

A former Santa Maria resident was sentenced Monday to three months in federal prison for shooting and killing a northern elephant seal in San Simeon.

Jordan Gerbich was facing up to a year behind bars after pleading guilty last December to one misdemeanor count of illegally taking a marine mammal.

In a plea agreement, federal authorities said the 30-year-old admitted to driving to an elephant seal viewing area adjacent to the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve and Monterey Bay National Marine sanctuary and shot and killed a northern elephant seal on Sept. 28, 2019 with a .45-caliber pistol and flashlight.

The elephant seal, a protected species, was found with a bullet in its head the following day.

Once released, Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, will be placed on a year of supervised release and serve three months in home detention, perform 120 hours of community service, and pay a $1,000 fine, a federal judge ruled Monday.

A reward was being offered in the case. Authorities have not said what led to Gerbich’s arrest.