By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Santa Maria man was sentenced Monday to three months in federal prison for shooting and killing a northern elephant seal on a Central California beach.

30-year-old Jordan Gerbich shot and killed the elephant seal on a beach near San Simeon back in September of 2019.

A juvenile elephant seal rests on the beach at Drake’s Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore outside Inverness, Calif., on March 17, 2021. (Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images)

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Gerbich drove to a viewing area near the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve with a .45 caliber pistol and shot the seal with the aid of a flashlight as it was resting on a beach.

Gerbich was charged in August of 2020 following an investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He plead guilty in December to one misdemeanor count of illegally taking a marine mammal.

Authorities still do not have a motive in the killing. The northern elephant seal is a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“It remains unclear what motivated (Gerbich) to commit such an act; nevertheless, (Gerbich) knew it was wrong,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

He was sentenced Monday by a federal judge in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles to three months in federal prison, followed by three months of home detention, 120 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.

Gerbich now resides in Coalville, Utah.