Producer of Hawaii hunting show fires back against State

Producer of Hawaii hunting show fires back against State
Published: Nov. 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "I can no longer be silent," writes Tjaye Forsythe, one of the producers of the reality show, 'American Jungle'.

Forsythe fired back at the Department of Land & Natural Resources on Facebook hours after the state announced a criminal investigation into the show which is shot on the Big Island.

American Jungle is a new series on the History Channel.  It follows several groups of Hawaii County hunters who live off the land.  The show identifies them as 'clans'.  They fight for food and each other over prime hunting trails.

"It depicts Hawaiian hunters in a very primitive and unflattering way," says William Aila,  Chairman of the DLNR.

And that's not all the state is upset about.  Aila says using the term 'reality' to describe the show gives viewers a false impression.

"There's no truth to it, there's no blood clan in Hawaii," says Aila.  "It's family and friends that go hunting."

On his Facebook page, Tjaye Forsythe addresses that.

"American Jungle  (is) considered more of a reality show because these are not actors and they are not reading from a script," his statement says.

"If the show was meant to be an accurate depiction of hunting in Hawaii, we would have created a documentary."

Forsythe also says viewers understand there are elements of fiction and non-fiction in shows like this.

But what Forsythe is most upset about, DLNR's public accusations that some of the hunting was done illegally.

"They're portraying people hunting at night, if there is the act of hunting, that is a violation," says Aila, who says officers are investigating to see if that happened.

Episode three of the series has night scenes with wild pigs and hunters, but Forsythe says the state never contacted the show's producers to find out if any hunting actually occurred or if the scenes were staged.

Another scene that the state pointed out as possibly illegal comes from episode one.  Where men with spears use dogs to chase down a cow.  Hunting cattle is illegal without a permit.

William Aila says if the investigation reveals any illegal hunting, the state will issue citations.  He says the state did try to contact the History Channel film office more than a week ago to address their concerns before going public.   But Aila says he did not hear back.

"We will be happy to sit down and discuss portraying hunters and values in Hawaii," says Aila.

Forsythe says the state is trying to censor the show.

This has been a contentious issue from the beginning.

The state denied the show access to public hunting lands to film because Aila says they didn't like the draft of the program and the direction it was going.

Forsythe and other hunters say the state agency is a 'bully'.

Forsythe also address issues he has with the state concerning access to thousands of acres of hunting grounds near Hilo.  The DLNR is planning to fence the area to protect priority watersheds from damaging wildlife.

But Forsythe calls it a 'land grab' saying it is causing the biggest turf war of all.

It's unclear if the two sides will be able to work out all of their differences, in the meantime, the show will go on.

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