Santa Maria Man Charged with Shooting Elephant Seal
By edhat staff
A 30-year-old Santa Maria man has been charged with fatally shooting a northern elephant seal near San Simeon.
Jordan Gerbich, 30, is charged in an information with one count of taking a marine mammal. An information contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime, according to the Department of Justice.
Northern elephant seals are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They live up and down North America’s Pacific coast and haul out on land in areas called rookeries. These rookeries are typically populated with elephant seals year-round, but populations vary throughout the year based on breeding and molting cycles.
In September 2019, the corpse of a northern elephant seal was found on a beach near San Simeon close to a popular viewing area along California Highway 1 where visitors can observe elephant seals. The animal had been shot in the head. Gerbich is charged with fatally shooting the mammal on September 28, 2019.
If convicted of the misdemeanor offense alleged in the information, Gerbich would face a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.
Gerbich was also arrested in November 2017 by Santa Maria Police for possession of materials to make a destructive device or explosive.
Four months earlier, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Bomb Squad responded to the 300 block of W. Betteravia Road in Santa Maria for a report of an explosion. Officials discovered a homemade bomb had been detonated. There were no injuries and the damage was minor.
This matter was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement with substantial assistance provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Heather C. Gorman of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.
November 16, 2017: Man Arrested for Making a Homemade Bomb