Since You Asked: Shooting a jay like shooting yourself in the foot

My neighbor (we live in Medford) is killing blue jays in his backyard with a pellet gun. Is this legal? What should be done about this?

— No name

Those aren't blue jays, which live in the eastern half of the United States. The jays you see around town with the white throat and no crest are scrub jays.

That said, your neighbor is messing up badly. It is illegal to shoot scrub jays under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the provisions of which have also been incorporated in more recent treaties. The law makes it illegal for people to kill or take migratory birds, their eggs, feathers or nests. That means any hunting, pursuing, wounding, killing, possessing or transporting of any migratory bird, nest, egg or part.

That's the federal case.

It is also illegal under Section 5.160 of Medford Municipal Code to shoot that pellet gun in the city limits. The fine is $150. The police would love to hear about your neighbor.

Aside from being illegal, this mindless cruelty is difficult to understand. Jays are native birds that form long-term bonds and just want to raise their young and eat bugs and acorns. Somebody has a problem with that?

First impulse, we'd tell you what we think should be done, but it isn't constructive. Instead we'll recommend that if you're on good terms, educate your neighbor. If not, report the behavior to police.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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