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Santa Maria man charged with shooting death of elephant seal near San Simeon
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Santa Maria man charged with shooting death of elephant seal near San Simeon

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A Santa Maria man was charged Tuesday with the fatal shooting of a northern elephant seal near San Simeon in September 2019, according to a U.S. Attorney spokesman.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, Jordan Gerbich, 30, was charged with one misdemeanor count stemming from the Sept. 28, 2019, shooting, according to spokesman Ciaran McEvoy. 

The dead animal was found shot in the head on a beach near San Simeon close to a popular viewing area along Highway 1, where visitors observe elephant seals, a short distance away from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.

Elephant seals are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and live along North America's Pacific Coast in areas known as rookeries, which are typically populated with elephant seals year-round. Populations vary based on breeding cycles. 

If convicted, Gerbich faces a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison, according to McEvoy. 

The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement and assisted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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