Man charged with fatally shooting elephant seal near San Simeon

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In this file photo taken Oct. 6, 2013, tourists watch elephant seals basking in the sun on the Piedras Blancas beach near San Simeon, Calif. The Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve rookery, on Highway 1, seven-miles north of San Simeon on the California Central Coast, is home to thousands of elephant seals. (Nick Ut/Associated Press)

In this file photo taken Oct. 6, 2013, tourists watch elephant seals basking in the sun on the Piedras Blancas beach near San Simeon, Calif. The Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve rookery, on Highway 1, seven-miles north of San Simeon on the California Central Coast, is home to thousands of elephant seals. (Nick Ut/Associated Press)

A 30-year-old man has been charged in connection with killing an elephant seal near San Simeon last year, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Jordan Gerbich, of Santa Maria, allegedly shot the northern elephant seal in the head on Sept. 28, 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. A possible motive for the crime was not given.

The large mammal’s corpse was found on a beach near San Simeon, close to a popular viewing area along Pacific Coast Highway.

Northern elephant seals are considered a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, officials noted.

Gerbich was charged with a misdemeanor and faces a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison if convicted as charged.

The shooting was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement with assistance by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, officials said.

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