ANCHORAGE – A Wasilla man was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kyle F. Reardon to two years of probation, 100 hours of community service, a hunting restriction, abandonment of his interest in a firearm and a $1,500 fine after pleading guilty to violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
According to court documents, Paul Gil, 41, shot at and killed a harbor seal using an AR15-style firearm in the waters of Prince William Sound in October 2017. He then transported the dead seal to his residence where he was photographed skinning the seal. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) biologist identified the animal in the photograph as a harbor seal which is a marine mammal protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA confirmed that Gil was not authorized to take a marine mammal.
“We are committed to protecting Alaska’s unique and highly vulnerable marine mammal species from illegal takes and exploitation,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “The senseless killing of protected species, such as the harbor seal, impacts the viability of its population. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases so future generations can see and experience these animals in their natural habitat.”
“Harbor seals are an important part of Alaska’s marine ecosystem,” said Jon Kurland, Alaska Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “Shooting seals is prohibited by federal law unless specifically authorized or exempted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, such as the exemption for non-wasteful subsistence use by Alaska Natives. This case was a collaborative effort between the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and the National Park Service. I would like to thank our agents and officers and our partner agencies for their contributions to this important case.”
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charisse Arce and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hattan, NOAA Office of General Counsel, prosecuted the case.