Yellowstone superintendent officially learned of dismissal through press release

Source: The Hill | June 14, 2018 | Miranda Green

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk found out he was officially being replaced by the Trump administration when he saw a press release announcing the news.

A little later Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted photos of the man replacing him, Cameron Sholly, meeting with members of Congress.

In an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, Wenk said he still hasn’t had his calls returned by Interior or National Park Service management about when his last day will be or when Sholly will take over.

“It’s nothing I didn’t expect,” Wenk, a decades-long veteran of the park service who has served as Yellowstone’s superintendent since 2011, said of his treatment.

“I guess the best way I can capture my feelings is they are not affording me any respect for the time my 42-plus years with the park service and my career of achievement,” he said. “And they won’t have a conversation with me about what a transition will look like.”

Wenk had planned to retire next year but on June 4 was told he would either be transferred to an office in the National Capital Region or have to retire early. Despite his desire to stay, Wenk was given 60 days to decide.

He believes he is being removed as Yellowstone’s superintendent for disagreeing with Zinke about how large the park’s bison herd should be.

An Interior spokesperson said the department does not discuss personnel matters.

Wenk said he had previously had “animated” conversations with Zinke over the herd of 4,400 bison. Zinke believed the number was too high and unsustainable. Wenk disagreed, arguing that the average population was a healthy size and has been actively working to move some of the animals to other land.

Ranchers commonly argue that larger numbers of bison hurt their property neighboring the park. Yellowstone borders Montana, a state Zinke previously represented in Congress.

Wenk said he thought he had worked through the disagreements, then he found out he was being reassigned.

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