Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk announces retirement date - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk announces retirement date

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Mammoth – Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk Says the National Park Service’s pressure on him to retire early feels “punitive”. He also revealed the nature of his disagreement with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. It’s about the number of bison in Yellowstone.

It is the bison breeding season in Yellowstone National Park, and a lot of people come to see the spectacle in Lamar Valley. But, park Superintendent Dan Wenk and the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke disagree over how many bison should live in Yellowstone.

Wenk said the number should be around 4200 to 4500. He says Zinke wanted 3500, which could require the slaughter of a thousand more animals.

In a news conference Thursday, Wenk said, “The only disagreement I had with Secretary Zinke was over habitat conditions and the number of bison in Yellowstone National Park.”

Wenk said he told superiors in 2106 he would retire in 2019. But Park officials recently told him his departure would be earlier. News reports indicated he blamed Zinke.

Wenk said Thursday, “Anything I’ve ever said in any of these interviews, I’ve regretted using the word ‘abused’. However, I would still tell you it feels a little punitive.”

As he talked to reporters about his upcoming retirement September 29th, Wenk answered questions about upcoming grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho.

He said, “If there is hunting near the park boundary, if someone shoots and wounds a bear, and the bear goes into the park, they can’t recover that bear. Does that hunter get a chance to shoot another bear?”

Wenk also talked about the challenges of managing a growing number of people visiting Yellowstone: more than four million visits a year now.

He said he regretted that he will not be able to watch live Yellowstone bison transferred to Indian Tribes at Ft. Peck in Montana.

Wenk said he believes his successor will do a good job of protecting Yellowstone National Park.

He remarked, “I believe that he will be supportive of the positions that we’ve taken in Yellowstone National Park, until he finds reason that he should change that position.”

The park press release indicated Wenk’s replacement, Cameron Sholly, will arrive in Yellowstone in October.