A Santa Maria man has been charged with shooting and killing an elephant seal near San Simeon last year.
Federal authorities say Jordan Gerbich, 30, was charged Tuesday with one misdemeanor count of taking a marine mammal.
The northern elephant seal, which is a protected species, was reportedly found September 29 on the beach close to a popular viewing area off Highway 1.
Officials say the marine mammal had been shot in the head a day earlier.
If convicted, Gerbich faces a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.
A reward was being offered in the case. Authorities have not said what led to Gerbich's arrest.