A former California resident has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for gunning down a protected elephant seal in the state, authorities said.
Jordan Gerbich, 30, 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.
Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, pleaded guilty last December to one count of illegally taking a marine mammal.
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.
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