This is my favorite question so far; hahahahahaha.
Unfortunately the answer is yes it probably is illegal. Most birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Though some species may be exempt birds like crows, jays, and raven etc. are protected by law. Crows however do have a hunting season and can be killed with a license. Check your states Game and Fish website to see what constitutes illegal with what species and how far a depredation permit can get you.
Just to be safe, consider it illegal and try other methods of deterring local birds to your apple tree.
Illegal yes, inhumane yes. There has got to be better ways to keep some of your apples from your tree. Might have to get out there and pick the apples quicker, may have to get a scarecrow? Not sure the best solution, but I am sure shooting them is not the way to go. They don’t know the apples ‘belong’ to you, they simply see it as food.
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