1. Alaska's quirky ban on spotting moose from planes dates back to the 1970s—looking at moose through aircraft windows technically breaks obsolete statutes intended to curb unethical tracking/scouting. 2. The wildly improbable law is unknown to most visitors yet remains on the books as a nostalgic symbol of Alaska's fierce wilderness ethos.
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The Bizarre Law Making it Illegal to Look at Moose from Planes in Alaska
In 1972, Alaska enacted a law prohibiting aerial spotting of moose, caribou, and other wildlife. This means that it is officially illegal to locate, direct, signal, or otherwise alert another person to the location of these animals from an airplane.
The law came about for conservation reasons. There was concern that aircraft were being used by some trackers to gain an unfair advantage in spotting and tracking game. Known as aerial spotting, trackers would scan the landscape for prey, land nearby, and have an easy find. This was considered unethical and damaging to sustainable wildlife management.
To curb this practice, the Alaska legislature unanimously passed a bill outlawing aerial scouting of animals during the season. The law imposed fines and jail time for offenders.
While understanding its original purpose, many point out that enforcement issues and cultural changes make this archaic law less relevant today.
Difficulties in Enforcing such an Obscure Law
Enforcing the obscure statute poses challenges. Pilots flying over Alaska’s vast wilderness have no reasonable way to prevent or control what passengers look at through windows. And with no one actively monitoring flight activity, violations are near impossible to detect.
That said, if a vigilant wildlife officer did witness tourists blatantly sightseeing for moose, the outdated law technically means they could still issue a citation.
But with little public awareness, the likelihood of being caught remains extremely low.
Modern Impacts and Relevance of Banning Aerial Moose Spotting
While concerns around the ethics originally triggered the flying ban, today’s helicopter and airplane tours have brought new issues around disturbance and harassment of wildlife.
Low flying aircraft can disrupt and stress animals on the ground. For conservation advocates, more pressing aircraft concerns today involve collisions and patterns of flight noise exposure. Many view the old aerial scouting prohibition as obsolete and not the best strategy for current wildlife management challenges.
Yet some argue that retaining the quirky law reminds pilots to fly responsibly. If nothing else, the flying moose viewing ban adds a whimsical piece of history to Alaska’s books.
The Obscurity of the Law Leaves Many Visitors Unaware
The majority of first-time tourists to Alaska have no idea that scoping out moose from planes is actually prohibited by state law.
Visitors flying into Anchorage or taking aerial tours assume Alaska has stunning scenery and wildlife visible from planes. They do not expect seemingly harmless viewing to be unlawful.
Given modern tracking/scouting practices, the law now seems targeted more at airplane tour operators. It serves as a reminder not to advertise moose sightings or aid in scouting. For unsuspecting tourists, their in-flight moose watching unknowingly flouts Alaskan rules.
Local Attitudes and Enforcement of the Antiquated Law
Many modern-day Alaskans regard the obsolete moose spotting statute as an odd novelty rather than sound policy. Some view it as symbolizing excessive government reach. Others see the rule as outdated but benign.
In reality, few pilots or passengers feel compelled to follow or enforce such an improbable regulation. Locals realize the difficulties of trying to regulate what people look at from cruising aircraft.
Yet technically the law remains active and applicable to air tours or charter flights. Hypothetically, a zealous trooper observing blatant aerial scouting could still issue citations – albeit extremely unlikely.
But the vast majority in Alaska’s aviation community accept that the peculiar moose viewing prohibition has lost practical relevance over time – even if it stays on the books.
Alaska’s antiquated ban on aerial moose spotting originated from 1970s tracking/scouting concerns but is now an obscure curiosity. The quirky statute remains officially on books yet holds little modern relevance.
While technically illegal, most visitors unknowingly violate the law by admiring Alaska’s scenic grandeur and wildlife from planes. We think the law was simply introduced to give Moose a fair chance and restore a little balance.
Ultimately, respect and stewardship for nature’s magnificence should guide air travel in The Last Frontier more than any improbable regulations.