A man could face up to a year in prison after admitting on Monday to gunning down a protected elephant seal on a California beach, federal prosecutors said.
Jordan Gerbich, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of taking a marine mammal in the Sept. 28, 2019 shooting near San Simeon.
The former Santa Maria, Ca., resident told prosecutors that he and another person had driven to an elephant seal viewing area near the Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve that night.
Using .45-caliber pistol, Gerbich shot and killed a northern elephant seal resting on the beach in the Piedras Blancas rookery, according to the plea agreement.
“The next day, the elephant seal was discovered on the beach with a bullet hole in its head,” the court document states.
Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, is set to be sentenced on April 12, where he’ll face a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.
Prosecutors are asking that he serve six-months behind bars and then one year on supervised release.
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.
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