Deer Smugglers Reprimanded

Helicopter pilot Thomas Leroy Hauptman pleaded guilty to illegally transporting axis deer from Maui to the Big Island, on Monday. He could be sentenced to over $10,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.

The alleged animal smugglers flew four axis deer from Maui to the Big Island to be used by hunters as living targets, and brought back about a dozen mouflon sheep from the Big Island to a Maui hunting ranch back in 2009.

The owner of the ranch, Jeffrey Scott Grundhauser, is also facing possible jail time for selling wildlife without the proper permit.

Because axis deer and mouflon sheep are not native species to Hawaii, their presence has damaged fragile native ecosystems and farms on the islands where they’ve become established. Many conservationists are worried that the introduction of these species may cause detrimental damage for their island.

“Some of our most endangered dry forest community on Maui would definitely be negatively impacted if sheep got established on Maui,” said Chuck Chimera, a botanist involved in efforts to fight invasive species on Maui.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has offered up to a $2,500 reward for callers who report wildlife crimes like the illegal transport of wild animals. Earlier this year, they partnered with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to set up a confidential, toll-free tipline.

“The DLNR will vigorously investigate and prosecute anyone attempting to illegally transport and release deer between the islands in the future,” said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila. “[We] ha[ve] the responsibility to do what we can to prevent the introduction of deer to the Big Island and avoid the damage that would occur to our agriculture, watersheds, and public safety.”

Anyone with information on illegal animal transport or release is asked to call 1-855-DLNR-TIP or 861-8525.


9 Responses to “Deer Smugglers Reprimanded”

  1. hawaiiangirl says:

    Throw the book at them. They need to know that this will not be tolerated.

  2. kalaniua ritte says:

    he should be cheered….he gave big islanders free food,less beef more deer meat.when things start getting real expensive the deer will be a blessing.thank you again mr.grundhauser.

  3. jeff spencer says:

    Aloha Kalaniua,

    I understand and support the subsistence issue and your right to hunt. I understand that free meat helps to offset the crazy cost to live here and that venison will be a significant part of the protein in all our diets when the barges no longer run. Here’s what I don’t understand.

    Your ancestors survived and prospered for something like 1500 years without eating one deer or one goat. My understanding is that the reef and the ocean was the primary source of their sustenance.

    Your ancestors understood that everything centered around protecting and sustaining the ‘aina and that it was the source of everything they needed to create the society that you rightfully seek to restore and protect. You make this the focal point of your argument on most issues facing this island and I agree with you.

    You are justified in your vigilant and steadfast opposition to the many issues Moloka’i faces from the chemicals that are being sprayed on the land to the attempts to develop large tracts of pristine coastline.

    I support sovereignty and the notion that the Hawaiian way was just fine and you never needed or asked for European/western culture to change or improve anything. I understand that you would happily take back your land and return to the traditional values and ways that were so successful in sustaining the culture for forever.

    Yet you support an entirely haole created situation and one that has devastated the very reef your ancestors depended on for their survival. How do you not see the goats and deer as foreign invaders destroying the ‘aina in ways that may be irreversible? They appear to me to be another imported disease that weakens all you want to strengthen. Something you never needed or wanted and something you would have never allowed had you been able to see the effects on the reef that sustained you and your families since time began.

    I know Monsanto uses science to convince us GMOs are good and that their herbicides and pesticides do no harm. I use science to argue against them so we can debate the honesty of science but if you’ve read the results of the 10 year study done by the USGS on our reef you cannot deny the direct effects of feral animals to the ‘aina you love so much and to the reef below. Kalaniua, I do not believe that they had a position to defend or promote in their research. They saw the devastation and worked to understand the reason so that we could undertake a remedy. I think that is as close to pure science as we’ll get.

    There is nothing natural or Hawaiian about the goats or the deer on these islands. They are unmanageable and uncontrollable and their negative effects seem to outweigh the value of the meat. Certainly the goats qualify as one of the worst invasive species ever introduced into these islands.

    I appreciate the cultural debate over the concept of private property and fencing but that aside no one can deny the effectiveness of the TNC fence line and what the ‘aina can do to repair itself once these foreign invaders are eliminated from a given area. Kalaniua, I would argue that Captain Cook and the helicopter pilot are one and the same. That they cared nothing for the ‘aina or the people and whether they acted to secure a meat supply or for profit their actions are wrong and the results are just too compelling to ignore.

    You and I know hunting is a way of life on Moloka’i and that is never going to change, nor should it. It is the new nature we have created. It is multi-generational and deeply ingrained in the recent culture and so basic to nature. Mine is a family of hunters and all my friends on island are hunters. It’s the only management we’ve got for the herds of animals we had no part in importing. We all know the animals are on Moloka’i to stay and that your grandkids will be hunters.

    So I would argue that there are two different discussions here but the one I’m asking you to consider is the importation of invasive species for any perceived benefit once the consequences are so obvious. Especially since the Hawaiians were so extraordinarily successful in creating an advanced civilization of extremely healthy people without any venison or goat meat. Especially since we’ve seen the effects of invasive species on this fragile, precious environment.

    While I am not comparing the damage deer do to what the goats have done I am saying deer are destructive. I’ve got a few hundred behind my house and they eat anything green and it does not all grow back. Their hooves are erosive and they create ruts that turn into streams that carve the land into larger ruts that never repair themselves. You know this soil better than I and we have both seen that left alone it is stable in the most unstable of conditions but move a rock, drive a 4 wheel over it, or scar it even slightly and you have created an almost irreversible dynamic. Nothing grows where the land is disturbed. Left alone and even the driest areas are amazingly diverse.

    Wouldn’t those on Hawai’i Island be better served re-developing their sustainable ocean resources and let us supply their venison while dealing with our man created environmental devastation?

    Remember the Super Ferry? One of the concerns was transportation of invasive species between islands. As I recall some were found during its short life. Why would we want to support this widely acknowledged mistake in any form?

    I worry that once we justify an action like this we open the door to other actions based on someone else’s rationalization about what is good. We get Roi on the reef, cherry guavas in the valleys and on and on.

    Kalaniua, neither of us can change the past but both of us can affect the future. For me, when I look at the mountain behind my house and see a moonscape or look down at the fishponds below and see a red ocean to the reef I feel some responsibility for the actions of my forefathers. We are actively pursuing resolutions to these problems and understand our kuleana. We feel privileged to call Moloka’i home and we take our responsibility seriously. I wish I could take it all back and would never think of passing it on. Now that we clearly see the unintended consequences of actions taken centuries ago we simply cannot repeat them.

    That you and your family have venison in your diet and hunting as a part of your lifestyle is truly great and while I know it has become part of a subsistence lifestyle here on Moloka’i it has come at the loss of the reef and many native plants. That is a trade-off I don’t think we should create on the other islands.

    Am I just overstating all this? Tell me what I’m missing or where my thinking is wrong. What is the best course of action for the grandchildren of the grandchildren on Hawaii Island? No matter how I much I think thru this I always come back to the thought that if we could have the reef as it was 200 years ago or venison on the fire we’d be eating fish for dinner.

  4. watizit says:

    Mr. Spencer, you get plenty to say!!..well I agree with Kalaniua.

  5. kalaniua ritte says:

    jeff,cattle, goats,and INDUSTRIAL farming are largely responsible for the erosion and reef destruction on molokai.thats because these things were and are being done unchecked.too much heads of cattle in the pasture,too much goats because not enough people eat goat on molokai and Nature Con. wont work with local hunters be cause of the liability thing.farming..well look at what RAY FOSTER ,DAVE GILLIAN and ADOLPH HELM{MONSANTO AND MYCOGEN BIG WIGS}are doing to cenral molokai.the deer, goats and cattle if kept in check and balance could help make molokai sustainible.we just got to get these farmer out.
    p.s i never believed in sovereinty,just saving and balancing our resources.it doesnt matter what race or color people are its the style of thinking that counts with me.

  6. jeff spencer says:

    Agreed Kalaniua.

    Easy to forget what the mismanagement of cattle has done to the island. Old timers have pointed the longterm damage out to me more than once.

    We’ve seen the effects of short term profit motives vs. long term sustainability worldwide but never more obvious than here on Moloka’i. We’re like the styrofoam container that a plate lunch comes in. Use it and toss it, let the next generation deal with the problems.

    Not easy to forget what we see happening with regard to the industrial farming you are concerned about. Whether its water use, erosion, or chemicals its hard to justify their existence on island with one big exception, jobs. Not to say we should ever trade the environment for a paycheck but we both know it happens and we know it is a big issue whenever anyone attacks Monsanto or Mycogen.

    At the end of the day I’m not sure any of the negatives we know to exist would cause our neighbors to reject the only significant employers on island. The devil you know vs. the one you don’t, eh? It shows me that in order to get this island working together we need a sustainable economy so that we have options and are not held hostage to the conflict over a paycheck vs. the ‘aina.

    I believe that there is an ag market out there for our small farmers to work with and development of that model would allow many of those employed by international agri-business to transition over, thereby eliminating that argument.

    I’ve argued before that this is where we need county government’s assistance. We have the land, the water, and we are the farmers. We need help to know what to grow, where the markets are, how to attack them, how to package for them, and on. Give us that person instead of a couple of the many police officers on island or that new slide at One Ali’i and we can build our infrastructure for sustainable jobs that begin and stay on this island. Profits that stay on this island. I have seen this model work. And it can be clean ag. Those that own the farms are kama’aina and will treat their neighbors and the land with respect.

    My dream would be that the next generation of Moloka’i kids really becomes the Farmers. That they learn how to take this land and water and use it for the highest benefit of the people of Moloka’i. That they see ag as viable, rewarding and important to our future. They must become the leaders we need so badly.

    When that happens right will make might and those water sucking fields of seed corn will be replaced with crops that will feed the islands or supply MECO with homegrown biomass. It doesn’t seem so farfetched to see our energy generation being powered by biodiesel, grown and processed right here on Moloka’i. A clean, sustainable source that provides jobs and breaks our dependence on foreign oil. It’s already being done on other islands.

    You and I know the end of the world only happens once and that economic cycles come and go. I think the sun will rise and that Moloka’i will see some interesting opportunities and always have its challenges. I know we’ll rise to the challenges, I hope we’ll create the opportunities that will keep Moloka’i Moloka’i and keep big corporations from controlling our future.

    Here’s to sustainability and to the grandchildren of your grandchildren.

  7. keikiaina says:

    Is it justifiable to TRESPASS on someone’s property without permission to hunt? If you trespassed on the Royal families land what would happen to you?
    Is it right to just leave your huntings dogs and go home?
    Did the Hawaiian ancestors use guns and dogs to hunt pig ?
    Is deer meat part of the Hawaiian diet of the Hawaiian ancestors?
    Hawaiians system of their society was similar to a feudal system, with the Royal Monarch owning all the land and the Konohiki collecting the taxes?
    Isn’t it true that the Hawaiians had a class system of royalty, farmer, the fisherman, and the commoners and you could not leave that station in life?
    Are you farming your land to feed your families today?
    Are you driving those BIG gas guzzling trucks?
    Can you do hunting like your ancestors on foot and with a spear?
    Are you still eating white rice,beef,macaroni salad,spam, corn beef any western or asia food that is not foods of Hawaiian diet?
    Are using computer, Iphones,ipads,electricity and can you NOT use them in your daily life today?
    Do you have plumbing in your house, or do you go get your water from the mountains?
    How many Hawaiians will quit drinking beer, wine and other alcohol beverages,smoking cigs or watching football?
    How many Hawaiians really want to go back to the feudal system?
    Just questions to think about?

  8. kalaniua ritte says:

    i am not an ancient hawaiian,iam a modern one.deer meat is part of the hawaiian diet because it is part my diet and i am hawaiian .did your ancestors have computers ipads electricity.who wants to go back to the feudal system,not me.i would love to get my water from the mountains,but over PUMPING OF OUR AQUAFUR and stream diversion have dried up our natural rivers.i am farming my land to feed my family.the deer was given to the hawaiian people by king kam 5 and we have the right to hunt them on undeveloped land.why do people think that hawaiians cant evolve and still be hawaiian.is a japanese less japanese because he doesnt wear a samurai sword around?we live on a tiny dot in the middle of the pacfic,all iam saying is we{whites,blacks,browns yellows]have to manage our resources better than we are doing now or we all going be in big trouble.
    ps keikiaina are you hawaiian?

  9. jeff spencer says:


    Thanks for writing that. Those are the very words I hear so often from so many in private conversations but words they would never say publicly.

    Its time to address the mistaken assumption that because someone doesn’t buy into the model that created Waikiki they want to go back to 1000 a.d.

    Many haole acquaintances and some Hawaiian friends as well say you can’t stop progress and that is what they see happening when Walter stands up against cruise ships and foreign corporations trying to develop pristine, untouched west end beaches. They say it when he stands up for Hawaiian rights and defends the oft spoken mantra of keeping Moloka’i Moloka’i. They say it about Kalaniua when he wants to stop agricultural practices that have already been banned in entire countries.

    But progress is only defined as movement in a direction, not a specific direction. If the path you’re on has you standing on the edge of a cliff I would argue that reversing course is progress and that continuing over the cliff is neither wise nor prudent. I might disagree with Kalaniua over exporting deer to other islands but I have listened closely to what has been said and argued over almost a decade and all I have come away with is a refusal to step over that cliff.

    And because those urging caution and restraint have not found a way across the valley and have suggested less vs. more until we do they are condemned and all the ills of the island are assigned to them. Those ills you point out are just the realities of changes in culture. Changes brought mostly about by non-Hawaiians. There are at least 6 generations of Hawaiians, or some part Hawaiian, that have been brought into the post war western economy and culture so what do you expect when you talk about diet and choice of vehicle?

    What I read in your comments is the thinking that if you’re in for a dime you’re in for a dollar. In other words, if you’re using a computer or a rifle, a truck or a toilet then you give up your rights to question Round-Up, Carnival Cruise ships or penta-millionaire homes on La’au Point.

    What you point out about trespassing, wild dogs, and food choice would seem to be all the more reason to reverse course. We have created a generation that is no different from their peers on the mainland. We have screened out the part that respected the ‘aina and ate a more natural diet. What is left is an epidemic of diabetes and the closure of Mo’omomi.

    Think about this. Here we have a guy, Kalaniua, who signs his name to his letters and each one he writes is passionate about his kids and the land he calls home. You sign your letter keikiaina yet leave us unclear as to your passion for either. What’s wrong with this picture?

    You are saying forward but you offer no vision of the future or how we get there. Everyone knows we can’t turn back the clock and no one wants to trade their deer rifle for a spear so if you’ve got some special sauce on how we come together for the children and the island we will leave them please share it with us.

    Maybe just start with our water resources and infrastructure and tell us how you’d solidify, improve, maintain and allocate them. I think we can agree that water is the cornerstone of our foundation and our future.

    What about the MLP resources, their ill conceived and failed business model and subsequent devastation of our economy? I think we can agree that putting their existing and already developed assets in play would create lots of jobs.

    How do you get the county government to create a viable and realistic plan for Moloka’i? Fund it? Implement it? I think we can agree that failing to plan is planning to fail and that an unfunded plan is just an idea.

    You’ve convinced us that we don’t want to wear a loincloth and chase wild animals barefoot and armed with only a spear, you’ve turned out the light on the past. Can you now illuminate the future?

    Just questions to think about.

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