A man who admitted to having shot an elephant seal badly on a California beach last year faces a possible jail term. Animals are among protected species under a federal law.
30-year-old Jordan Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, pleaded guilty to a marine mammal count on Monday, a statement from the US Attorney of the Central District for California said.
Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of six months, three of which can be served as domestic terms, according to a plea agreement, but a federal misdemeanor carries a maximum imprisonment of one year in prison. A judge will determine the sentence at a hearing set for April.
It is not clear in court documents why Geribach shot the animal. His federal public guard declined to comment Wednesday evening, and a phone number for Geribach could not be found.
Geribach drove into an elephant seal viewing area near San Simeon on the Central Coast of California with a .45-caliber pistol on September 28, 2019 and shot the seal as it rested on the beach.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that the seal was cut from its tail feathers and shot in the head, and it opened. The agency offered a $ 20,000 reward for information in the murder.
After searching his home in January, Gerib accepted NOAA office legislation.
Northern elephant seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. According to NOAA, commercial hunting caused the species to go extinct around 1900, but their numbers have increased again.
They are named elephant seals because the males have an inflatable nose which they make loud sounds when trying to threaten and intimidate rivals during the breeding season.