CALIFORNIA—On Monday, April 12, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California sentenced a former California resident to three months in prison for shooting an elephant seal to death near San Simeon in September 2019.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer sentenced Jordan Gerbich, 30, to three months in federal prison as well as a “three month term of home detention, perform 120 hours of community service, and pay a $1,000 fine,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

On September 28, 2019, Gerbich went to an elephant seal sight next to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve.  He then used a flashlight and a .45-caliber pistol to “shoot and kill a northern elephant seal as the animal was resting on the beach in the Piedras Blancas rookery.”

Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, lived in CA when he committed the offense.

The elephant seal was discovered the following day “on the beach with a bullet hole in its head,” noted the news release.

Northern elephant seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which was signed into law by former President Richard Nixon nearly 50 years ago on October 21, 1972.  It went into effect two months later.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the MMPA “prohibits, with certain exceptions, the ‘take’ of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.”