‘Has Oprah Helped the Maui Victims Rebuild?’: Oprah Winfrey Faces More Backlash from Maui Locals After Two Men Were Arrested on Suspicion of Hunting Near Her Ranch

Two men suspected of hunting animals at night took a very wrong turn when they wandered near Oprah Winfrey’s property on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It’s been jokingly rumored the famous talk show host has more security than the president of the United States.

So, it’s not surprising Maui’s finest jumped into action and descended on her Kula ranch, quickly locating and arresting 19-year-old, Luke Allen and Ty Munoz, amid its acreage.

A spokesperson for Winfrey’s Harpo explained in a press release via People, “Last month, [Department of Land and Natural Resources] reached out to local ranchers regarding their efforts to prevent illegal poaching throughout the area and we agreed to cooperate. The arrests did not happen on the property.”

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Two men were arrested at Oprah Winfrey’s ranch in Maui, Hawaii for hunting. (Photo: @oprah/Instagram)

Just before midnight on June 21, Maui police detained the two suspects on a public road that runs through Winfrey’s property, according to a press release from the DLNR. In February, the media mogul acquired about 870 acres of agricultural land in nearby Kula for $6.6 million from Ulupalakua Ranch, one of the biggest cattle ranches on Maui.

This added to her existing real estate holdings on the Island, which is believed to be around 1,000 acres.

While the two men were not caught actively hunting, officers discovered a loaded shotgun and a loaded rifle in their truck and found them using a hunting spotlight on the public road surrounded by Winfrey’s ranch. In Maui, game mammals can be hunted year-round during daylight hours. It’s illegal to hunt one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise — or to hunt using any form of artificial light.

The Maui locals were arrested on suspicion of hunting on private lands without permission, not having a hunting license and other violations. Allen was also charged with owning an unregistered semi-automatic rifle.

News of the arrests created even more backlash for Winfrey, who faced criticism from locals for her “People’s Fund for Maui” initiative, co-sponsored by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

In the wake of the horrific 2023 wildfire that destroyed Lahaina and scorched across the island, the wealthy duo launched a $10 million relief fund for displaced victims. But they asked the public to help finance it — a misstep that they can’t live down. Oprah has been a part-time resident of Hawaii for the past 15 years, and Maui locals had a field day tearing into her on social media.

Now, the arrests of the Upcountry Maui residents are sparking even more criticism.

“Return [the] land to the state. Allow hunting for sustenance. Win. Why allow rich mainland dictators to buy entire islands and then control them? Hawaii is turning into a playground for the rich while the locals suffer and have to work 10 jobs just to put food on the table,” said one outraged Facebook user.

Another exclaimed, “People be getting hungry!” referencing the sharp increase in unemployment and food insecurity after the fires.

A third said, “Has Oprah helped the Maui victims rebuild?”

But the obvious safety issue of shooting guns at night did not go unnoticed, “there’s a multitude of reasons why night hunting is illegal. One of which is you can shoot right at a house if you can’t see it in the dark.”

Axis deer could have been a potential target of the alleged hunters on Winfrey’s ranch. The invasive deer have overrun Maui and other islands of Hawaii, and the state is offering landowners $50 for each killed animal, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.

The suspects were booked at Maui Police Station in Wailuku, and the case was deferred to the Maui County Prosecutors Office. According to county officials, the men have been released pending investigation.

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