Whitehorse Daily Star

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Currie Dixon and Darius Elias

MLAs protest Alaska-set show's Yukon namesake

Yukon MLAs have taken issue with the Discovery Channel's show Yukon Men, and are calling for the name to be changed.

By Ashley Joannou on April 26, 2013

Yukon MLAs have taken issue with the Discovery Channel's show Yukon Men, and are calling for the name to be changed.

In the legislature Thursday, independent MLA Darius Elias said the show demonstrates illegal trapping, and that "Yukon hunters and trappers consider this program's name as an outright case of identity theft.

"Yukoners have worked so hard to ensure our territory is recognized around the world as a beautiful land filled with wonderful people,” Elias said.

"The few citizens who still maintain traplines take pride in their responsible approach to harvesting their fur.

"We don't club lynx to death when they're caught in a leg-hold trap. We don't shoot wolverines when they're caught in a leg-hold trap.

"We sure don't, and we surely do not feed chinook salmon to our dog teams. That's not our Yukon, but that's what is portrayed on the Discovery Channel program called Yukon Men.”

Environment Minister Currie Dixon said he concurs with Elias.

"I have to say that I do agree with him that some of the portrayals of trapping in the television show in question and the presentation of that as being in the Yukon is unfortunate.”

The minister later added: "Of course, their claim is that it is on the Yukon River in Alaska, so it's acceptable for them to refer to it as Yukon Men; I took issue with that, and asked them to change the name as well.”

Back in October 2012, Dixon sent a letter to Bruce Gelawson, executive producer, programming at the Discovery Channel.

In the letter, the minister takes issue with the activities seen on the show.

"Our concern relates to the hunting and trapping practices portrayed on this show,” it reads.

"They most certainly do not reflect how such activities are carried out in the Yukon Territory, and are, quite frankly, rather horrific.”

Dixon goes on to present some examples. They include a scene showing a man beating to death a lynx caught in a leg hold trap, and another with two men opening a bear den to shoot the hibernating bruin.

"I would suggest that you advise viewers that many of the activities they see on this show are illegal in Canada,” the minister writes.

"Also, since it is my understanding that the protagonists live in Tanana, Alaska, I would suggest renaming the show.”

In a response from Paul Lewis, president and general manager of Discovery Networks, the network insists it's bringing diverse perspectives to its viewers.

"With regard to the hunting and trapping activities featured in the series, we understand and recognize that there are important legal and cultural differences on this issue between Canada and many other countries around the world.

"As a channel that brings international stories to Canadians, diverse perspectives are an important feature of our programming.”

Lewis describes multiple disclaimers shown during the program.

"We are also aware that some of the activities featured in the series are graphic, and, as a result, we have the following onscreen advisory at the beginning of the broadcast and at the start of every segment:

"‘The program contains scenes that some audience members may disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.'

"An additional disclaimer has been added to the program itself by Discovery U.S. to the top of each episode, and midway through the episode: ‘Life in remote Alaska is a deadly struggle. Men hunt and trap to survive. Viewer discretion is advised.'”

In an email to the Star this morning, Jodi Cook, a senior communications manager with Discovery Canada, said the Canadian company does not have the authority to change the show's name.

"Discovery Canada acquires the series Yukon Men from our partners at Discovery Communications in the U.S.,” Cook wrote.

"As we acquire the series as a fully-completed package, we don't have an input with regards to the title or content.”

Comments (23)

Up 1 Down 2

Jeanette on Oct 22, 2020 at 7:12 pm

I agree with all above in animal abuse for animals they hunt & sled dogs. I’m disappointed that in these times dogs are left outside in cold and fed boiled fish, other raw animal parts that have no nutritional value.
Back to Yukon men, Joseph Roberts held days old puppies by their tail to determine if they would be a good sled dog. He comments 'oh see this one is a fighter', well maybe the new born puppy has a breathing problem & can’t breath! These are modern times if you starve your sled dogs, because you don’t have a job & have no food to feed, them than go get a job or don’t abuse you poor dogs.
Don’t complain you have 4 kids to feed also, you should have thought about that before you had the kids. If you can’t make it out in Yukon or Alaska then move to a city where you can make it without abusing your sled dogs and kids. Most of those other Yukon men or Ashley & her fat husband on Last Alaskans are FAT! Who are they kidding. Live by yourself if you can only care for yourself & try sleeping outside on cold grown like poor skinny sled dogs.
YOU WANT SLED DOGS, Build a barn with hay on ground, proper hydration and BUY DOG FOOD, show you care for dogs and wild animals. With today’s modern times and all life offers, you should not whine that you have no money or dog food or proper dog care, GET A PAYING JOB & hold yourself accountable for your obligations like the rest of the world.

Up 3 Down 1

happ on May 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

Discovery Channel has turned into the biggest purveyor of garabage, BS and hype on TV. Not worth watching anymore. Their shows pander to the lowest dregs of humanity that can't get enough of this low end trash. I rarely watch it these days, just total garbage.

Up 0 Down 4

Arn Anderson on May 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

Who cares, let em think stuff like that happens up here. That way they can come up here, act like the show, deal with us, simple. After all, from coast to coast this once pristine land is filled with mall after mall after mall of useless goods and massive fatty people from all the fatty food. Good one, keep up the good work.

Up 6 Down 3

Groucho d'North on May 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

The American approach to reality TV is the same as their politics and fiscal reparations – pure fantasy.

Fiction has become accepted at all levels and for what seems like all things. This is not documentary television, no; it is distraction from life of a different kind. Look at the other samples of American lifestyle they promote to the masses: Swamp People, Honey Boo-boo, Real Housewives of wherever, Buckwild which was recently cancelled because one of the feature characters got killed for some hillbilly stunts along the lines of Jackass and similar cultural televised epochs.

Even correcting the record on Yukon Men would not matter to the audience. Consider, the producers of "Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” knew they would never run out of contestants.

And they selected a Canadian to moderate Jeopardy for a reason.

Up 3 Down 6

Baffled on May 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I think this show sheds light on the barbaric aspects of trapping. Yukon trappers have no reason to smugly think they are better. The only difference is these morons have been documented. Some Yukoners might remember a few years ago a trapper was bullying a local animal rights activist by leaving a wolf skull on his property. Then in a insincere attempt to make not look like a buffoon, the trapper invited the activist to his trapline. "Without your camera". Why no camera? Because the horror show would be exposed? I have witnessed several illegal trapping activities which the Conservation Officer refused to do anything about it. It was like Barney Fife meets deliverance.

Up 0 Down 5

samholloway on May 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

I hate the Discovery Channel's show Yukon Men as much as Margaret Wente's provocative articles in the Globe and Mail.

But I cannot stop watching this program. Its so sad, it may a form of process addiction, I need an intervention or other help- please help me!

I say lets have another program that shows the jobs that are available in Tanana, the opinions of other residents, how fisheries and wildlife managers view what takes place there, and other quotidian aspects of these people's hand to mouth lives.

Ohh, and I want to protect the Peel. Maybe we can offer to send some local environmental advocates over to help the Tananeese people. It would be almost like sending missionaries to a developing country. A little colonial and paternalistic perhaps, but very appropriate.

Up 7 Down 2

Yukoner on May 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

To Tim Koepp;

Excuse me? "USA and Canada share an area called the Yukon” buddy! Look at a map! Yukon is IN CANADA, not ‘shared' with the USA! DUDE! We're mad at the reference the show's name makes to Yukoners. Alaskans can do what ever they want, just don't associate it with Yukoners.

Thank-you very much

Up 2 Down 5

Tim Koepp on May 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The show takes place in Tanana, Alaska, USA. Why Canada gets so upset and thinks they should have a say in the TV is beyond me. This article talks about illegal activities for Canada not USA. Canadian law is not the same as USA law. Just because USA and Canada share an area called the Yukon doesn't give Canada the right to ask for the name to be changed either. If Canada is so upset, ban the show in Canada, I would not care if they did so. For anyone else who doesn't like the show just don't watch it. Do you really think if the show doesn't exist that the people of Tanana, Alaska, USA would no longer do the trapping and hunting? No way would stopping the TV stop their way of living.

Up 1 Down 4

Bonni Bluh on May 2, 2013 at 10:20 am

I spent about 5 yrs outside of Fairbanks in my late 20's & felt like I found Heaven. Being from & having returned to the lower 48, I am always eager at any chance to see anything Alaska. When I drove the Alcan home there were no differences in the breathtaking beauty until well back into the US. I never knew there were issues between Canadians & Alaskans until reading the uproar, righteous as it is over a TV show. I thought I liked the show until I was engaged by someone who knew the truth. I didn't like the trapping, so inhumane but tried to accept it as families were portrayed as being at risk of starvation so fur would bring money for food, still brutal.

As for the Gold Rush show, did they hurt anyone? Did they take what someone else worked for? The rich bounty of this land was given to all of us from God. Unless others were disrespected, hurt or the land rendered useless, it's wealth belongs to those who work the hardest to find it!

Up 5 Down 6

Anne Monet on May 1, 2013 at 4:59 am

Not only the show should not be on air but the trapping should be banned...even if those peoples live far in the woods they don't own the right to animal cruelty...shame on them...

Up 2 Down 2

Cedric Lutes on Apr 30, 2013 at 2:28 am

This show or I should say this atrocity gives the native REALLY bad names.

First of all. (posted before on another site and will say again).

Yukon men is not true survival. True survivalist don't waste energy nor being disorganized and nor being brutes and savages like this man who

beat this wolverine with a stick while holding a gun and then shooting it. Also true survivalist don't use snowmobile and dogs at the same

time. The dogs in that show are so neglected which is pet abuse. They abuse wild animals as well.

Yukon men is a mockery to the natives. It makes them look like violent and uncivil barbarians. Well is mostly made by trappers. Makers of this

were white men.. Also the folks in that show are well dressed and have decent jobs. They do that for profit not survival. They're inhumane as possible to animals to maximize pelt value. True survival is not about profit, is about surviving.

Also Yukon men reminds me of a VERY racist film called Africa addio.

This movie slanders toward African tribes and make them look like disorganized savages, hunts like mindless animals and uses dogs. They

waste lots of energy. Some use modern weapons. Also modern factory made pants and shorts w/e. This movie was based on colonialism.

Real African tribes conserve their energy because in REAL survival we must waste as little energy as possible. African tribes are highly

organized. They take their time when they hunt. They don't chase animals like mindless savages.

Ebert gave this film 0/4 stars to Africa Addio.

Now back to Yukon men, It is awful and is an atrocity. Is by far the worst show in history so far.

As for Yukon men I would give it a 0/4.

I even saw some sportsmen criticizing this garbage. This show CAN promote poaching and other unlawful acts.

It crosses the line.

Up 5 Down 1

A TRUE HUNTING FAMILY!!!! on Apr 30, 2013 at 12:24 am

I did not see where they tried to shoot hibernating bears because I quit watching after watching a episode and seeing how they were doing things-made me sick! There dogs are skinny and the way they treat the wildlife is sick! They have no respect for the very things that are keeping them fat! FAT people can not possibly have it that bad off to where they need to SURVIVE-what a joke- they are far from survivalist-these shows are going to destroy Alaska and the wildlife-more people are going to want to move down there and play survivalists-thinking they can kill everything in sight just because they are starving! ha ha -more raping of the land-more people more problems! The people on this show are a great example of that! We are a family of hunters-a family that hunts with morals and respect-this show needs to be banned - I do not want my 3 boys thinking that's the right way-Get your head out of your a--- Discovery and Alaska!

Up 5 Down 3

Frank Irish on Apr 29, 2013 at 5:56 am

I thought this program was very disturbing and it portrays Tanana residents in a very poor way. Where are the older people who can teach hunting and trapping ethics? Maybe we can send a Canadian trapping expert over to show them how to use connibear traps.

Most people I know who trap are very compassionate about the animals they harvest and they use more humane trapping techniques in Yukon-Canada.

A few years ago when the feds closed a salmon fishery a Canadian Yukon community harvested caribou for dog teams. If we looked hard we likely have examples similar to the Americans but they are likely not as frequent.

I think the real message should be that regardless of which side of the border you live on, hunting and fishing ethics should be very high. There is responsibility associated when harvesting animals- wolverines are not going to slash your throat- they will run away. Animals will get into your frozen fish unless you use an electric fence (they do not cost much).

If you live a subsistence lifestyle you have a responsibility to treat the fish and animals you harvest with respect. The government and resource does not owe you 1 or 2 thousand fish for dog food- get real, you are living in the modern age. To see all whitefish used to feed dogs when they are good for human food, and even the chum salmon which are also very good when smoked or prepared in certain ways makes me think many people on the show are trying to live an outdated lifestyle.

Up 4 Down 1

hmmm on Apr 29, 2013 at 5:25 am

I have to agree when I first heard of the show and I live down south I was hoping to catch glimpses of family or friends but, within minutes I new that it was Alaska and was surprised by a lot of what I saw. You have to realize it is reality TV and the US. The truth goes out the window.

Up 2 Down 5

flyingfur on Apr 29, 2013 at 4:47 am

On the other hand folks, I don't really think this is a good use of our legislature's time do you? We've got nothing better to do for the Yukon than to complain to the Discovery Channel?

Up 5 Down 0

Real Yukon People on Apr 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Isolated or not, it is misrepresenting the truth about northern life. Far be it for me to intervene in a big old Discovery Channel production about a little community and the life they lead but I have lived in the True Yukon for over 20 years. I have Fished and hunted, mined and explored here. I know miners and tapers, and I have worked as an Outfitter and Guide. This is more about respect for our Territory and about respect for the wilderness we live in and less about image and ratings. I have met the Hoffman's during filming of season 2 and you will never find a bigger bunch of guys more full of them selves then they are.

If D.C. wants to see an empty freezer come over to my house, just give me a heads up so I can empty it before the film crew arrives.

This is about taking back our identity, GMC started it with their over-sized useless SUV, and it won't be the last time. I'm glad YT has taken a stand! This is a place with a great name and great people, and when a tourist asks about the show it is our job to set the record straight.

Up 4 Down 0

Clayton on Apr 28, 2013 at 6:53 am

Just like all "reality t.v." its all staged with poor actors.

Up 4 Down 1

Elodie Dulac on Apr 28, 2013 at 4:51 am

It's nice to see that this is getting addressed. When the show first aired, I 'liked' their Facebook page to learn more and follow. After viewing a couple of episodes, I was also upset with the name of the show. (for all the above reasons) So I wrote on the FB page that it was misleading to call themselves Yukon Men when in fact they are from Alaska, and ironically Gold Rush Alaska, was filmed in the Yukon. (2nd season). I created a big discussion thread on their page, then I was deleted by the Page Admin! (my feelings were not hurt)

Secondly the Yukon is being used for it's name, with no benefits to Yukoners what-so-ever. Same with the 'Gold' show, p.s. none of that gold stays here, it all goes south, extremely disheartening in a local miners opinion.

Discovery Ch needs to get out there atlas and check book, as they are the only ones benefiting from the Yukon and it's vast natural resources.

Up 3 Down 0

Dennis Townsend on Apr 28, 2013 at 4:41 am

Welcome to television, U.S. style: not encumbered by presenting reality as reality, and portraying itself as authoritative in source but ignorant and deceptive in it's presentation. Not surprising from a media that brings you "Honey Boo Boo".

Up 1 Down 2

OICU812 on Apr 28, 2013 at 12:52 am


Up 4 Down 0

Jason Hurtig on Apr 27, 2013 at 1:48 am

I agree with all of the above statements I would also like to add a few items to this that made me disgusted with this show.

The show states that the town where this is filmed is isolated with no road access. This is false. There are full services in this town, with road access and a small airport. They have running water, plumbing, telephone, internet and cable services. 90% of the shows content is made up, such as the one episode where the young man had to walk 2 miles up river to get firewood.

The ridiculousness of this show and the portrayal of northern life is so far from the truth. The fact that if the Yukon men don't hunt or trap the whole town will starve.

Clearly Discovery Channel needs a reality check when it comes to their reality TV, just like that Gold Rush show, the majority of that show is scripted to keep the viewers engaged.

Up 3 Down 0

Atom on Apr 27, 2013 at 12:17 am

'Yukon Men' is a misleading title for that show. The characters are morons representing a trade that is difficult to present and or display in a way that common (city folks) wouldn't find horrific or hokey.

It's amazing but I have had occasion to defend 'The Yukon' in conversation with my southern family and friends on account of this show.

As wilderness the Yukon was 'the last place'...too much exposure has led to over use of the 'wilderness'. Combined with mining, tourism (hunting and eco) has brought fame and everybody wants to 'see' it....it was too good and now is too busy and we'll never get it back.

Hopefully shows like this won't be repeated and diminish whats left of this great Territory.

Up 6 Down 0

phil frost on Apr 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

I cannot believe that some of the contents of this show is illegal in the state of Alaska, esp the guys going in a bear den and trying to kill it while it`s hibernating, that is wrong! I`m wondering why is it that we in the Yukon, Canada, are limited to the amount of salmon we catch, yet in this show the amount seen and caught by these individuals are above and beyond the limit`s of what we are allowed, not to mention how it is stored. I find it ironic that the US fish and game is not all over this, which is aired on national Television!! My opinion.

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