A former Santa Maria resident has admitted to shooting and killing an elephant seal near San Simeon last year.
The Department of Justice says Jordan Gerbich appeared at his hearing via videoconferecing where he pleaded guilty to the Sept. 28, 2019 crime.
Federal prosecutors say in the plea agreement, Gerbich 30, admitted to driving to an elephant seal viewing area adjacent to the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve and Monterey Bay National Marine sanctuary and with a .45-caliber pistol and flashlight, shot and killed a northern elephant seal.
The elephant seal, a protected species, was found with a bullet in its head the following day.
Gerbich, who now reportedly lives in Utah, is scheduled to be sentenced April 12 and faces a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.