Two men arrested near Oprah Winfrey's Maui property for alleged illegal hunting

 July 3, 2024

There was an incident involving firearms and a police response that resulted in arrests near daytime TV icon Oprah Winfrey's expansive property in Hawaii last month.

Two young men were arrested and charged for alleged illegal hunting and other infractions on a public road that runs through land owned by Winfrey on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Fox News reported.

Through her production company, the famed daytime talk show host made it clear that the arrests did not occur on her property, nor does it appear that she was in any specific danger.

Arrested on suspicion of illegal hunting

On Monday, Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a news release to publicly announce that Upcountry Maui residents Luke Allen and Ty Munoz, both 19, were arrested late at night on Friday, June 21, on "a public road that runs through private property owned by the Oprah Winfrey Ranch."

Allen and Munoz were stopped by officers with the DLNR's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement after they were observed appearing to use a spotlight for hunting purposes.

Though the two young men were not caught in the act of illegal hunting, a search of their vehicle uncovered a loaded rifle, loaded shotgun, and extra ammunition.

Both men were booked with possession of a loaded firearm other than a pistol and ammunition, hunting without a license, hunting at night without permission, and using an artificial light for hunting purposes. Allen was also separately charged with possession of an unregistered .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle.

Their case has since been referred to the Maui County Prosecutor's Office for review and to be formally charged.

"The arrests did not happen on the property"

It is not clear what the two men were specifically attempting to hunt on the private property owned by Winfrey that surrounds the public road they were arrested on.

However, the Associated Press reported that an invasive species of deer known as axis deer "run rampant" on several of the Hawaiian islands, including Maui.

Harpo, Winfrey's production company, said in a statement to the AP, "Last month, DLNR reached out to Upcountry ranchers regarding their efforts to prevent illegal poaching throughout the area and we agreed to cooperate. The arrests did not happen on the property."

Winfrey's land holdings on Maui

According to Business Insider, Winfrey first began buying property on Maui with the purchase of 100 acres in 2004 and, over the past two decades, has made additional purchases of surrounding parcels to now hold approximately 1,000 acres of land on the island.

While she has faced criticism from some for driving up property values and pricing native Hawaiians out of the land, she has also been praised by others for keeping much of the land undeveloped, other than the massively renovated main residence on the estate and the improvement of a "high-end bed-and-breakfast" 12-bedroom inn that sits on about 17 acres of the ranch.

Separate from the Upcountry ranch, Winfrey also owns around 200 acres of property on Maui's east coast near Hana, but it is unclear what, if anything, she plans to do with that largely undeveloped acreage.

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